Thursday, February 13, 2014

Trapping Your Talent in a Box

I have a confusing relationship with talent.

As a romantic, when I encounter someone so haunted by talent that I can barely look away from her, a once in a lifetime artist who makes me think, whoa, the world cannot be deprived of this person’s magic, I just want to run up and hug her until every drop of talent comes oozing out of her nose for all the world to see.

And that warms my heart.

As a realist, I know that millions of talented people will never become as successful and happy as they could be, because they literally won’t have the time to take their talents on the ride they deserve. Somebody could be the most brilliant illustrator on the planet, but if they spend the majority of their waking life waiting tables just to pay the bills, there simply won’t be enough hours in the day for them to develop, market and leverage their talents.

And that breaks my heart.

As researcher, I know there are always exceptions. We’ve all heard the mythology about the single mother on welfare who had a full time job and still managed to write the greatest fantasy novel series of all time. We’ve all heard about the systems for building portable creative environments, folding time and threading our talents together. And we’ve all heard the purists proclaim that talent is finally king because distribution is free.

And that inspires my heart.

But ultimately, I’m still confused when it comes to talent.

Which part of ourselves are we supposed to listen to?