Monday, April 09, 2007

Manic Monday #9: Snap

Snap is this week's theme word for Morgen's Manic Monday. Other forms of the word can also be used, hokay?


Carl Jung once said something about how great talents are like fruits, dangling from the thinnest of twigs that are easily snapped off. What he meant by that exactly, I'm not sure. One thing I do know is that everybody has a talent, and that no talent is too small to be dismissed or too big to be feared.

Talent reminds me of an excellent book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The Little Prince. This little prince lived on a small planet all by himself, performing several activities to keep his days and nights busy. One of these was to care for a rose, which he watered and protected from animals by placing it under a glass globe. He loved it very much.

One day he came to Earth and, wandering here and there, came upon a rose garden. The sight of this garden broke his heart for it was full of roses. All along he'd believed that his rose was unique in the whole universe, yet here he looking at hundreds of others. His own wouldn't have stood out from the others if he had happened to bring it along. But, after the initial shock and dismay (and because he was such a wise little prince), he realized something: his rose was unique after all! Throughout the years he had loved it and nurtured it. It was his and his alone. That set it apart from the others.

So it is, I think, with people and their talents. Take, for instance, a painter. It's almost a certainty that there are more critically acclaimed painters than painters who perform their craft in obscurity. But does that mean the unacclaimed painters' work is mediocre? Perhaps to professional critics and such others, it is. Perhaps having their art being labeled "mediocre" is one of the blows that snaps the twig, felling the talent.

Or maybe this scenario. A glass blower is critically acclaimed, his work is popular among many people. He knows he does a good job, but when he sees his glass pieces displayed among many others, he gets this feeling of inadequacy, of mediocrity. I think most people go through this glass blower's predicament at least once; it doesn't matter whether they're writers, composers, athletes, web designers, sculptors, tattoo artists, teachers, etc. A person pours his heart and soul into something, sweats blood and sheds tears over it. After the rush of exhilaration of a job passionately and excellently done, he takes a breath to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Until one day, the composer hears (what he thinks) is a better song; the teacher comes across a fellow educator who makes teaching seem effortless; the writer reads something so well written his stomach clenches in envy. The first flush of achievement is replaced by uncertainty. This niggling demon in the back of his mind shakes his confidence and has him questioning his abilities.

I won't claim that what other people say and think is unimportant because it is, especially if the other people in question are authorities in their fields or if they're people whose opinions matter to you. Validation and approval are flattering and encouraging, but your fulfillment (and mine) shouldn't hinge solely on those.

Ultimately, fulfillment should come from within; self-acknowledgment and self-validation are achieved when you are able to say truthfully that you truly gave it your best, that you couldn't have done any better. Knowing that another person does it better shouldn't deter you from what you love to do. There will always be better -- and worse -- writers, athletes, web designers, musicians, glass blowers. What you do, if you are impassioned, should never be mediocre for you because you love it, you nurture it.

Though there are countless others with similar talents, yours is unique. Because it is yours and yours alone, and nobody else can do it quite the way you do.


iz said...

Gosh Lizza, I've read the book so many times but never took out this exactly from it. There are so many, many times when I feel this way about my writing. As I'm sure you do. This post makes me feel better.

Unknown said...

Very good post. Thought provoking and insightful.

I like it.

Thank you.

Later Y'all

Durward Discussion said...

It is an elephant inside a snake. This was a wonderful use of snap and if you like the idea of the value of even the most mediocre, you will love a short story by Tolkein, "Leaf By Nigel".

Liz Hill said...

Wonderful and inspiring and just waht I needed today. Well most everyday. Thanks sugar!


Natalia said...

Yaay I love this book.

And loved your take.

Thanks! I loved reading it.


houseband00 said...

And you, dear Liz, are more than a rose.

This is your best. =)

Dan said...

Wonderful post on the difference between objective vs. subjective. It makes me wonder if anything really is objective. Perhaps things we invent, like Math, can be approached from an objective angle because 2 + 2 is always 4. But art? Not a chance. :)

Happy Easter!

Photo Cache said...

i should read little prince again. quotes i remember from that book: "It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose important." and
"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye." Nice post.

Lizza said...

Iz: I've felt that way so many times I've lost count. Glad the post made you feel better.

Meloncutter: Thank you very much! It's great to read the different takes on the MM theme words. I'll read yours in a bit.

Jamie: Exactly. Some people see it as an elephant inside a snake, others see the same thing as a hat.

I'll look for a copy of that short story. Thanks!

Turnbaby: Glad to have helped. Smooch!

Natalia: Thanks! It's a great book isn't it? So simple yet so deep in many ways.

HB: Awww, thanks. Really. Kahit na madalas ay feeling ko kampupot ako.

Dan: When it involves human heart and soul, it's never objective.

Hope you had a happy Easter!

Photo: Thanks! Those are great quotes from the book. I've read this one so many times and each time it makes me think of things from another angle.

Kiyotoe said...

i remember there was a Little Prince cartoon for a little while when I was a kid.

Anyway, you mean to tell me there might be a better blogger than you out there? way ;)

I definitely can relate to this feeling. You'd think someone with this ego couldn't be deterred.

Schmoop said...

The only time that I feel inadequate is when...well...nevermind. I've said too much. Nice post as always Lizza.

Lizza said...

Kiyotoe: Dragons might be all scaly, fearsome, and powerful, but you have a talented (and creampuff-y) heart. That's why you're so lovable.

Matt: Haha! You, feel inadequate, even when...nevermind.

Lisa Ryan said...

Thanks for the reminder that we all have unique and special talents. good post!

Mo and The Purries said...

Great post, Lizza.
Thought-provoking, and very true in its message. Thank you for sharing your beliefs in such a well-written post!

Odat said...

Thanks, I needed that!!
Thanks for the shout out on Saturday btw, and Happy Easter...and Have a great day and all that...where have i been???

Sandee said...

Wow, this is great. You make a great point here about each persons talents. Have a great MM!

Danielle said...

What a great MM post. It is so true what you write about talent and the frailty of the artist's confidence when their talent is judged even by themselves. We are indeed all blessed with individual talents and I thank you for the reminder.

Be well and enjoy the day

mist1 said...

All of my talents are latent. I thin that my true talent may be keeping my talents latent.

Foofa said...

Best book ever. My post isn't up yet but it's coming. I hope.

Lizza said...

Lisa: We, each one, have our own unique ways of contributing to the world. Thanks!

Morgen: Thank you! I am glad to read your kind words. And thank you for MM! It's enlightening to read different people's different takes on the theme word.

Odat: You were having a Happy Dance weekend. And Matt's monkey is back! Yay!

Comedy+: I like one of your talents, the one you showcase on your blog, at least: humor! And I still want in on that bus tour. ;-)

Danielle: I've heard it said that we ourselves are our own worst critics. Which is good and bad.

Mist1: Perhaps. In addition to your talent for writing humor. And let's not your sexual prowess, as well as your talent for finding the perfect pair of shoes.

Natalie: It's a terrific book. Thanks for stopping in again. I'll head over to your site in a bit; I hope you'll have a Manic Monday post!

Prometheus said...

Sorry to play party pooper (hmm, alliterative, that) but Prometheus wanted to get this one out. Great post as usual Liz. But ain't that rose special for the prince and The Prince alone? Ain't a tradable commodity. Wouldn't get 2 Dirhams more at the Dubai Flower Center. And no, it does nothing for his NASDAQ scrip. Finally, its the success (monetization?) that one's work achieves that is evaluated. Unless an item (script, photo, symphony, bottle) is deemed 'amazing' by enough number of people to make a 'critical mass', it might well be (at least looked upon as) a case of a parent comparing their cherub's cacophony to Beethoven's 5th. As a wise man once said "show me the money".

Lizza said...

You are absolutely right. The prince's rose wouldn't get diddly squat in any flower show. But to him, it's priceless.

But I see your point (that's why I said validation is important when it comes to your craft). It can be a double-edged sword, mon ami. You can go do what you're good at and make money out of it, but if you find yourself doing it for the money, it'll tend to become boring after a while. There has to be a balance between internal and external appreciation.

Doing what you love, having it appreciated, and getting paid dear, dear moolah for it is nirvana. I have no hatred for money (I'd love to get my hands on a lot of it) and it's a big part of "success," but it ain't the be-all and end-all. Just putting in my two centavos' worth. :-)

Callie Ann said...

Wonderful Post. I have never heard this story before. Thank you

lastlifeinmyuniverse said...

mmmm... this post just made me pause and think about how artists look at themselves critically as well as how they are judged by others.

Michael C said...

Beautifully, beautifully said!!

Travis Cody said...

I really like this post. There's a perspective here that often is lost when we flex our talents.

We must first please ourselves before we can even think of pleasing an audience.

Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

'The Little Prince' was on our essential list when papersurfer and Tiggz were sweet as was 'Jonathon Livingstone Seagull'. It's often the thin books that are the best!

Sidney said...

Great book. I am now trying to read the Tagalog version (Ang Munting Prinsipe) together with the English version. I was tired of using the dictionary...

Gattina said...

Very true ! I learned to paint for myself in the first place and if others find my paintings nice I am happy but for me they are unic.

Ernesto Pacheco said...

i love the cartoon side love it...

Lizza said...

Callie Ann: Thank you. Welcome to MM!

Deb: And I hope you'll write about your thoughts on this someday.

Michael: Thank you very much!

Travis: A job isn't a chore when we love what we're doing. :-) And the passion comes out in our work somehow.

Daddy Papersurfer: I enjoyed Jonathan L. Seagull's journey to perfection too! But my imagination is having a hard time dealing with the thought of Papersurfer and Tiggz as sweet young things. :-)

Sidney: Really? That is so cool. I am ashamed to admit I've never read Ang Munting Prinsipe, though I've read the English and French versions.

Gattina: Both tangible and intangible appreciation are so sweet.

Ernesto: Yes, the book's illustrations are so endearingly whimsical.

Barb said...

VERY late.. sorry I missed this!