This idea of viewing our talents as gifts reminds me of the book “Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon,” by Willem Kuipers.
In a section of the book titled “Is it a Gift to be Uncommon?” he writes, “Giftedness refers literally to special talents, somehow provided at birth. Extra intelligence refers literally to an uncommon overdose, compared to standard availability.
“It is well known that the label gifted is generally not welcomed by the person in question, whether child or adult.
“This can be due to worries about possible stigmatization as a strange exception to normal, or about the implied expectation or felt obligation to be an outstanding performer.”
He notes that this sort of gift is “something we do not get by our own efforts: It is bestowed upon us. That makes it different from something we acquire through our own efforts, like commodities or possessions.”
He adds, “A talent is a gift: Although one needs to develop the talent through conscious effort, its initial appearance is a gift. Inspiration and intuition are also a gift: Their appearance cannot be forced or adequately forecasted.”
In her post “ I is for Imagination ” artist Jericha Senyak says, “Thinking that we own our talents is as crippling as thinking that we’re not responsible for them at all.
“(After all, if our talents are all our own, when we don’t feel inspired, it’s our own damn fault. You know what’s crippling? Guilt, shame, and a sense of horrible failure. If you believe in the muse, you can just call her a fickle wench and go have a beer.)”
[See more of her quotes in Part 1 of this post.]
But maybe we can think of talents as ‘endowments’ – or gifts – that need tending and shaping.
Or even giving away.
In her article “ Literature and the gift of words ” author Susan Straight writes about the inspiration and encouragement she has received from people giving her books, including her former USC professor bell hooks.
Straight has handed out 1,000 free copies of her novel “Highwire Moon” to people who can’t afford books, and she offers to “speak for free and give away books.”
Our creative work and that of others can be deeply enriching, even life transforming.
In her article “ Reading, no batteries required ” writer Patt Morrison acknowledges, “I owe to books so much of what is rich and delicious in my life. Landlocked as I was growing up in a small town, the book was a door. To open a book was to open a door to — anyplace…
“I journeyed to places, imaginary and real, that I could never have seen or known — except for this pound or so of paper and ink in my hand. I had never been aboard a yacht, but I knew it down to the capstan. I had never climbed Mt. Everest, but George Leigh Mallory took me there. These were my friends and my teachers, as real as any kids in the playground, as any teachers at the chalkboard.”
Writers, artists and other creative people have that power to open doors, to make life richer – both for themselves and for others. That is worth celebrating.