My late brother Mark once remarked that the two of us were failed artists. We both had a good laugh because it was largely true. Our sketches and doodlings were uninteresting to others outside of the family. Even our father struggled to find merit in our efforts. After all, dad was a successful civil engineer who had many highway and bridge projects under his belt. He drafted blueprints for a living.
Mark went on to dabble in commercial art while working for a sign company in Omaha. I tinkered with photography while working in radio broadcasting. We both greatly enjoyed our avocations and vocations. Mark wondered aloud what our lives could have been like if we had both seriously pursued our original desires. In hindsight, I believe we both did so, but didn’t realize it at the time.
Regarding our earlier wishes to become famous artists whose canvases would be in high demand, one or both of us could have done so with enough encouragement and persistence. Both of us possessed latent artistic talent but we joined the legions of people who have never followed through. Thankfully, we channeled our drive into mainstream careers. Yet, both of us had niggling urges to sketch and draw. I have lost the old sketchbooks that contained drawings of cars I wanted to design and drive. It would be enjoyable to see them again.
“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.”–Arthur Conan Doyle
I believe everyone on Earth can discover a purpose in life and that we have particular unique talents that can allow us to share our purpose and benefit society at large. When we travel our unique path that fulfills our purpose, we feel an exultation of spirit. Most of us detect hints of such purpose from time to time. People who develop their talent, have found and attained their ultimate purpose. Everything else is simply a refinement of their abilities.
When considering the lives of people who contributed their talents to the world, we notice that many of them were misfits. Leonardo da Vinci was an oddball genius. Perhaps the most eccentric man of talent was Nikola Tesla. This is not to claim that everybody with artistic or inventive talent is a social outcast, however, those people who were outstanding in their fields knew they were fundamentally different from the mainstream. They accepted the fact and used their different perspectives to develop new ways of thinking and artifacts to benefit humanity.
I’ve known a few people who have been immensely talented. Unfortunately they were averse to boldness. They preferred to sit out in the sidelines and observe life. They have a right to be passive observers, there are no laws against it. On the other hand, I sometimes wonder how many obscure women and men went to their graves in anonymity.
How many advancements in the arts and sciences did not occur because people’s talents were discouraged or even forbidden by social norms. Perhaps one of those people could have developed the proverbial cure for cancer–we don’t know.
One of the injustices of life is that there are numerous people who have striven and struggled for years and years, yet only a few are able to get that special break that enables them to fully succeed. The rest of those who have put in similar or more effort never “get the call”. The vast majority of us redirect our talent towards living our day to day lives more effectively; that’s a great thing.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes film actor, producer, and musician, Johnny Depp. “As a teenager I was so insecure. I was the type of guy that never fitted in because he never dared to choose. I was convinced I had absolutely no talent at all. For nothing. And that thought took away all my ambition too.”