I was recently challenged to write about the “talent-genius canvas” and I take challenges seriously. Since no employer has recognized any such traits in me as I have looked for work the last five years, I have time to contemplate and write. So, what the heck do I know about either subject? Not much apparently because here I go, just dumb enough to make an attempt and smart enough to know this subject matter required some research on my part.
The dictionary says that talent is a special, natural ability or aptitude, a capacity for achievement. We seem to learn what our talents are from others. Encouragement and positive reinforcement move us to hone those skills. For me, it’s easier to recognize another’s talent than my own. Many have accused me over the years of being a good writer, but I am the last to realize it. When I go back and read some of my old poems and notes, I am unsure I even wrote them because some of them are pretty great. At the time, I wasn’t so sure.
So what if I’m not the best at it? I will never get better if I don’t practice. As Bernard Meltzer so wisely observed, “The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.” Whoever was best last year may not make the grade next year. That’s why the games keep being played. Some of the reasons I started this blog was to make my voice heard if I felt I could improve the silence and sharpen my writing abilities. “No one respects a talent that is concealed” are wise words from Desiderius Erasmus. It is what you do with your talent that counts.
Genius is a different beast. A genius has an exceptional natural capacity of intellect, especially as shown in creative and original work in science, art, music, etc. The genius has another set of challenges. Encouragement is unnecessary and people are less apt to recognize it at the time. As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “ The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius.” Looking at the world through different lenses, they are often far ahead of their time. Since the majority of us have no such gift, we perceive geniuses to be odd characters because we fail to see the almost childlike brilliance they possess. We can see someone hit a homerun, but can’t conceptualize the game the genius plays, let alone the magnificence. Misunderstood, too many leave us tragically before their time. Others are chastised as freaks of nature. The lucky geniuses live long enough for the rest of the population to catch up to their vision.
I have had the rare treat to be with two extremely talented people that I also consider geniuses. Although I was with them, they were in a completely different zone as they communicated. It was an amazing experience. They were on a plane I will never achieve. As much as I appreciate natural talent and super intelligence, I always root the ones who have less, but work their tails off to be the best they can be in their given field. Sometimes they even win.