This post stems from a conversation I had with my colleagues in the English department at my junior/senior high school earlier this month. After marking a common writing assessment where students were asked to describe a talent they wished they possessed if they could have any ability that appealed to them, we started talking about the topic as adults. It was an interesting discussion that lead to some surprising revelations. Of course, we thought at the outset that the “grown ups” in us would opt for practical talents that would make the world a better place.
For the record, I wish I could play the guitar. It’s not an original talent, and it’s not a mature wish that gives blessings back into the universe, no matter how much people love music. I just truly wish I had learned to play before my hands gave up on me. With the tendonitis I’m rocking on top of my carpal tunnel, it doesn’t look like being a rock star is in my future, unless a band somewhere is looking for a master kazooist.
What skill would you wish for? Remember, you can have anything you want; your talent doesn’t need to be practical, and no one can judge you or laugh in your face if you pick something selfish or practical. Take a moment and really think about it.
Once we’d worked around the table and shared the talents we secretly desired, an extra-astute colleague asked, “What if you could have any skill you wanted, anything at all, but you had to give up a talent you already have to get it.”
That’s where things got really chewy. When I look at the abilities I’ve been blessed with, I don’t know if I would trade any of those skills for a new talent, even my guitar fantasy. I consider the ability to express myself my greatest gift from my creator, and I don’t believe I would be able to trade writing and speaking for any amount of guitar playing, or for any other new talent. I can’t read your mind on Wednesdays, and I’m not about to guess how you feel, but I doubt many of you would take the swap.
The lesson I took from this discussion is that we have what we’re meant to have. As much as we long for the things we don’t have, our attachments to the blessings we have already bind us to the talents that were chosen specifically for us. Without those, even if we were more talented or famous or blazingly rich, we would cease to truly be ourselves in the manner we are meant to be. It’s too bad we always want more, isn’t it. We treat life like an all-you-can-eat buffet instead of a plated 5-star meal; this is supposed to be a quality appreciation thing, not a quantity focus, people.
Take a moment today to appreciate the wonderful things you can do.
I will probably abandon philosophy and go back to discussing dog farts tomorrow.
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