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Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Goldblum’

Creative people often do a variety of creative forms. Most of the world knows Jeff Goldblum as a fine actor, but few seem to know he’s also an accomplished jazz pianist. The comedic talents of Red Skelton are unrivaled, but he reportedly made more money off his paintings and prints of clowns than he did off television and movies. And writer Stephen King has been known to pick up a guitar every now and then to play a little classic rock for fun and profit (read: charities). Not content to be the proverbial one-trick pony, we creative types just have to get our hands into everything (da Vinci, anyone?).

The question is: where does that drive/motivation/curiosity come from? There has been an ongoing argument throughout the centuries about Nature vs. Nurture, sometimes translated as talent vs. skill. Are we born able to do certain things, or can we only be taught those things? The debate has been long and passionate on both sides, but recent studies indicate it’s more of an <AND> equation than an <OR> equation. We get handed a genetic package of possibilities – the predilections toward art or music or football – and that package can get us a ways down the line, IF we’re given the opportunities. Then to put us over the top, you have to polish that rough stone. Even so, there’re no guarantees you’ll get anywhere.

Music was my first creative medium. I was picking songs out on a friend’s piano when I was two. By the time I graduated high school, I could get by pretty reasonably on a half dozen different instruments, and had composed a piece for full orchestra. Writing was much the same. I was already reading and writing ahead of my age group by the time I started kindergarten. Seven years later, I took the formal lessons and turned them around into fictional explorations, writing stories for extra credit in English class. I’ve also drawn in pencil, sculpted in clay, blown glass beads, danced (yes, in public), tie-died fabric, designed and sewn historical garb without a modern pattern, built wooden furniture, fabricated metal needles, and fletched my own arrows. None of this is unusual from my perspective. But sometimes even my own family is boggled by my abilities.

Recently, I posted pictures on social media of a belt I crafted in wool using an old technique called tablet weaving.

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This is something I’ve done as a hobby for nearly a decade now, and I’ve posted other pictures of my work before. But this one seemed to spark something in people. I received a tremendous amount of feedback and questions, and my own mother marveled at how she didn’t realize I could do something like that. To me, it’s just understanding the engineering and then it’s pretty simple. To the rest of the world, it might as well be magic.

Well, maybe it is. I know plenty of people who are amazingly skilled at something, understanding techniques and theories for their chosen thing far beyond the average, but it is impossible for them to think outside the box. They are excellent craftspeople, but lack that intangible spark that would make them truly exceptional. The world is filled with amazingly skilled cellists, but only one Yo-Yo Ma.

And don’t tell me it’s all just about drive or desire or training. I’ve known several people over the years that wanted nothing more than to be “famous” singers. They sang everywhere they could, they took classes, they worked with vocal coaches – anything and everything you can do to learn the craft and be better at it. And you know what – even after all that, they still couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket (not that it seems to matter anymore, what with Auto-Tune – see American Idol…).

Plenty of people really want something with all their heart, and will never get it because they just don’t have even the basics for their great love. Some people will succeed amazingly well despite their lack of “talent” because of their hard work and dedication. Lots of people have natural abilities that could put them ahead of the game if they applied themselves, but they don’t have the push to build on them so their talent goes to waste. All of it is a crapshoot. There is no real answer to the equation, because the one thing that really decides whether or not any creative artist succeeds isn’t within them, but without.

Most creative forms are as much science as art. Writing has grammar and punctuation, music has scales and arpeggios, painting has form and color. You have to learn the rules so you know how to break them, and then you have to work hard indefinitely to build your brand and be ready for opportunities. But, still, nothing guarantees any of us will ever do more than sit in the dark with our wishful thoughts. ‘Cause most of the time it just doesn’t happen. Then suddenly it does.

And that’s why I think it’s magic…

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