When children go to the nursery they do a lot of artwork, colouring, drawing, painting; this carries on during the first years of elementary school. Well, I have to admit it; I was terrible with my artwork. Whenever I did a picture of a house, no one understood it was a house: everybody thought it was an arrow. Why couldn’t people see what was obvious to me? But then, when I looked at the other children’s pictures of houses, I noticed they did look different from mine.
The same applied to my trees, flowers, clouds, suns. I soon realized that I just wasn’t good at drawing; no matter how hard I tried, I could not express with pictures what I had in my head. This was very upsetting for me.
My older brother Mariano, on the other hand, had a natural gift. He could draw perfect pictures of anything, animals, still life, landscapes, even abstract stuff. The picture in the cover of my book A Deal with a Stranger is taken from a painting he did for me as a wedding present. Mariano, however, had difficulty as a child with his Italian homework; he sometimes struggled with his grammar, spelling, writing compositions, etc. So we made a deal: during homework time, we would swap notebooks, he would do my artwork and I would do his Italian homework.
Many years have passed since elementary school, and I have tried several hobbies. I always believed that it’s important in life to identify one’s talents and use them at their best. Sometimes life it tricky though, because often the things we like, we may discover we’re not that good at. Take my drawing example. I also mentioned in my old blog that I loved playing electric guitar, in particular hard rock. I played for several years, been to lessons, been part of a band which met regularly, and yet, I never felt I was becoming a better musician with time. Why is that? Maybe I just didn’t have that natural gift. Every time I learnt to play a new song, I had to actually rehearse it many times before I got it, and then do it again, so I wouldn’t forget it. Practice, practice, practice, were the words of my guitar teacher. In comparison, if we decided to have a go at a new song with the band, my friends would have a little play with their instruments, and pick up the riff or rhythm straight away. Also, they were able to improvise any tune; and I really had a problem with that. Can I say that they had talent and I didn’t? Probably.
What is interesting is that when it comes to writing books, I don’t ‘struggle’ like I used to struggle to learn a piece of music. I just sit down at my keyboard and type. Words flow freely and, of course, I have to go back and cut, rewrite, adjust, etc, but it doesn’t feel like hard work, it feels like a pleasure. It’s easy and natural.
We often associate the word ‘talent’ with art, making music, films, sculpture, etc, but when I looked it up in the Cambridge Online Dictionary the definition was “a natural ability to be good at something, especially without being taught”.
I think that the above definition is quite accurate. And moreover, I think that everyone, and I do believe, everyone, is talented. Each one of us has been gifted with one or more talents, it’s that sometimes we may not think as our qualities as talents. As an example, among my friends I have: two who can make fantastic cakes, one who can organize international meetings and conferences without a glitch, one who writes comedies in Sardinian language, one who trains disabled children to play rugby, one who can clean a house and make it really sparkle, one who volunteers for a children’s hotline, a mum that makes the best lasagne ever.
These are only a few examples of our gifts. What are your talents?
image courtesy of: www.flower-images.net