With regard to at least one major aspect of my life, I now understand that I probably squandered a major part of my talents…..to whatever degree they existed. At least it would seem so with regard to the real heart and soul of those talents which is the point of this writing. As to music as a first-hand example and to the part music played in my life, I enjoyed playing and entertaining but most of my efforts were directed toward others and what I perceived they liked and wanted to hear. If you possess any measure of real talent, it may unfortunately fall to the wayside through the years in your efforts to peddle your wares and maintain an audience.
Many times in our society those who offer up a personal critique or commentary on some item of interest concerning their fellow human beings, often do so never having walked in the shoes of those who they point their pen toward. Music and performing have always been a part of my life. And now as I walk through the autumn of my life and look back at my footsteps in the sand I am, with reasonable certainty, sure that I did not, for the most part, do it ‘my way’.
But the thoughts I am putting forth here are not at all about me but rather I speak of “talent” in an overall sense. I speak of those who actually possess a “talent” and often want to share their works with the world because their soul has a message to speak. Others who possess a great talent may not choose to share that talent. Much of what is presented to the public and perceived as the expression of talent in our day to day lives is not the least of someone’s talent….unless you consider commercial success in itself representative of a talent. Those that commercialize true talent certainly believe that being able to do that is within itself a talent. But be assured that there is much talent that we never see because there are some who not only possess the talent, but refuse to let it be manipulated and tarnished by commercialism and the like. For the most part we don’t embrace talent in these days and times….we suck the life out of it, if in fact there was any talent there to begin with.
In perhaps a more philosophical sense, true talent is a bit like a bird on the wing….free and wild and in tune with nature. But once a talent is recognized and found pleasing to our own soul, we seem to want to cage it like a bird, which in reality will forever change the true nature of that talent. What means more to you? Seeing some very special bird everyday in a cage full well knowing that it is, in truth, slowly withering away and losing its spirit or…..from time to time being just lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it as it moves within it’s true realm free and wild? The latter is when our hearts truly soar. Yet many a talented individual in our society today will succumb to the fate of a caged bird.
A true artist whether a composer, a writer, a painter, a poet or the like has to deal with the commercialization of their talent if that talent ever gains public recognition. And most of us don’t deal with our talents successfully. Sure, many may end up as millionaires because their talents have been successfully commercialized or exploited but for most there will be a day of reckoning within the confines of their own soul when the majority of them will have to face the fact that they cheated themselves of showing the world who they really were and the true talent therein. Let’s face the cold, hard truth – commercial success is how most of us measure success in general. That is how most of us measure talent. Yet as many of you know, some of the greatest talents to have ever lived never realized a cent from their gifts and some were not even discovered until after their deaths.
In today’s society and culture most talents work hard, very hard, at producing something they hope the public will adore and accept. But the true artist will only strive to satisfy the passion and yearnings of their own heart and soul. It is satisfying that yearning within themselves that is their true goal and bares the purity of their gift. But it seems that once the slightest inkling enters the mind of an artistic person that a living could be gained from their talent, they themselves, from that moment on, put that talent at risk. Once they begin to direct their thoughts and ideas toward a commercialized public, they have in fact compromised their talents to one degree or another.
Does the writer of a novel calculate each paragraph and chapter in an effort to capture their commercial reader or are they following the dictation of their heart and soul as the words begin to flow across the pages? Does a painter calculate each brush stroke in an effort to please his public or even choose their subject to the same degree? Almost all of the music we hear today is totally commercialized to a major extent. It is written and arranged to extrapolate fortunes from the public….not to give us insight into the magic of some writer’s soul as the melody weaves its way across the pages of a manuscript.
So much we will all miss because of this. So much will many of the artists discard who possess a wealth of talent miss because of these things. And many with true talents will never step forward and let us share in their gifts because they already understand that this is how it is and they refuse to compromise the origin of their talent….which is indeed their heart and soul.
It is all very, very personal and for those who possess a true talent, we are so fortunate that they may choose to share it with us to fulfill us and make our lives richer. It is their true talents that inspire us as individuals to test our own boundaries and talents – helping us to be more than we thought we could be. Don’t measure true talent by the number of albums we are told they sold, or the number of books we are told they sold, or the fact that they are number one by some measure this week. Don’t measure talent by the price someone paid for their paintings. Measure their talent by the amount of heart and soul wrapped around their offerings to you and I and then all of us will benefit from the experience.
Look under rocks and turn over logs….there lies the true talent that inspires our lives and makes this life worth living.