I no longer cry when I listen to The Little Drummer Boy. But no matter how silly the rendition, the family does shut up, because they know I’m listening.
Kind of like everything stops and we stand up for the anthem.
So, why cry? And why have I stopped crying?
You could say I’ve stopped crying because I’ve gotten used to the idea. Inured, maybe? though that’s a terrible word.
You see at some point in my twenties I realized what the whole thing was about talents, and about if you save your life, you will lose it. I saw enough friends and relatives so afraid of not doing the one perfect thing they wanted to do that they never did anything. Unwilling to engage themselves in doing or making anything imperfect, they saved their life/time so as to keep it free for that perfect thing: the perfect marriage, the perfect child, the perfect career. And thereby, mostly, achieved none of these things.
Long before twenty, I realized I’d never be perfect. Or “gifted.”
The effortless talent to do something and do it perfectly, I’ve seen it, and I don’t have it. It’s most evident in adolescence because none of us has much training. But some people can pick up a pencil and draw effortlessly, they can write movingly, they can solve the most difficult equations in their heads. I’ve never seen anyone play an instrument first time they see it, though my parents were absolutely convinced this could happen. But I’ve seen people who teach themselves an instrument and learn to play it. Older son did that at six. Yeah, I don’t have that either.
Sure, I was always “best writer” in whatever class, particularly for fiction, but that’s a really tiny pond.
In the real world?
It took me 13 years of concerted effort and practice to sell my first short story. In art, without the rendering computer (which should be fixed by tomorrow, hopefully) I am stuck at “talented amateur.”
So I had a perfect excuse to sit down and do nothing, right?
Well, no. First because a lifetime is a long time to just waste waiting for it to end. Second because I’d have become steeped in envy and malice, as I looked at everyone who accomplished SOMETHING while I did nothing. You know I would. It’s only natural.
So I chose to use bullheadeness and vast amounts of work to make up for the lack of gifts.
How is it working? I don’t know. There’s a lot of things in the way of a trad career, and I’ve seen gifted people flounder and sink worse than I’ve ever done.
But now there’s indie, and lacking gifts I have an enormous amount of learning and experience.
Think about it: just because you weren’t given a strong voice, should you stay silent?
“I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give a king.” But sometimes, rarely, for a moment, He smiles on me and my drum. And that’s enough.