Yesterday I was asked, “What’s it like to have talent?” My first thought was, “Everybody has talent, why would you ask that?” but upon further reflection I could not recall ever thinking, reading or hearing that question in art class or any where else. Another way to ask the question would be to say, “What does it feel like to have talent” seeing that to experience something we have to “feel” something (or nothing for that matter.) Being a creative type you would think my first instinct would be to say something poetic or perhaps obscure. For instance if you asked Prince he would probably say something like, “It feels purple, like purple cherries.” But that’s not me. I have an analytic side that likes to understand the “how and why” of things. Having never thought about this question I had no answer but instead I thought about doing things I had no talent for like math and basketball, no fun, no fun at all. And there right in front of me, was the key to my answer. Fun.
“Talent feels like fun?” Not so fast cowboy.
Talent feels like Reading.
Let me explain.
Humans are pattern seeking machines. We are keen to not only a patterns shape but of behavior. We also understand what a thing is by knowing what it “is” and “isn’t.” Fire is painful and hot but also warm and comforting. It is not cold nor easily tangible. It is bright and moves quickly. If one had never seen fire they would not necessarily know it can be used to heat water and cook food or that it could also destroy their home or kill them. If one had a talent understanding fire, they would know all these things from just looking at it just as Mozart knew what a piano could do from just hearing it played. He had a innate talent that led him to write his first symphony at age five.
Now image yourself trying to orchestrate a symphony when you were five. Does that sound like fun? How about doing calculus when you were five or even six? It wouldn’t be fun, in fact it would be a struggle. Don’t get me wrong, talented people still need to work hard and struggle, but to get to a level of basic functionality is not what they struggle at.
Now take yourself. Obviously you can read and read well enough to understand this article. However when you first learned to read it is unlikely that you could have read this without struggle if at all. The first sentence I read as a child was “See me,” which was next to a picture of a clown pointing at himself. It took a little work to understand that but not much, and with a little help from the picture of the clown, it was fun. Over the years our ability to read, to understand letter patterns we call words became more and more complex. By the time we are reading Alice In Wonderland or Huckleberry Finn we spend less and less energy on “trying” to read and become immersed in the story, the news or information we are reading. We do not feel ourselves reading, we feel what we are reading about. The fun or enjoyment is not from the sensation of the optical transference of the meaning of the letter groupings but from the journey they lead our mind too. Thus at a certain level of skill, reading feels like nothing. And “nothing” we know by what it is and what it isn’t. One thing it isn’t, is a struggle.
So what does Talent feel like? It doesn’t feel like anything. It’s just an unencumbered path to enjoyment. It feels like reading.