The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The King of No Talent

I have always wanted to be ambidextrous. Well, that and rich, handsome, talented, and adored by all.  Not having the genes or the charm required for those things I thought, perhaps, I could train myself to be ambidextrous. And so I began. I tried to write legibly with my left hand. It could be read but it was not pretty. I kept trying, off and on, for a few years before giving up. I gave up because there was no perceptible progress over time.

I decided, at the time, that I lacked the ability and no amount of practice would overcome that. What I have come to understand is that I lacked the desire needed.You see, it isn't innate talent that's required, people with that just do it naturally. What the rest of us need is practice, practice, practice. But having an overwhelming gene for laziness, I was not going to do that.

I bring this up for two reasons... One is that I am reading an article about something called "deliberate practice", the other is the realization of my lack of talent in quite a few things.

I was watching a TV show, Boardwalk Empire, and the main character is talking to his nephew in his dorm room. Nucky (the main character) picks up a ukelele and asks the nephew if he can play it. The nephew replies, "Not very well"... or words to that effect. Toward the end of the show, the nephew is plunking away on the uke and it is producing a recognizable tune. I had a sort of epiphany just then.

I thought back to something I had recently learned about Frank Sinatra. He was going to star with Gene Kelly in a movie where he would not only sing but tap dance. He had never tap danced before and Kelly was asked to be his coach. Sinatra thought he was clumsy and awkward but Kelly thought him an excellent student, according to Nancy Sinatra.

When I first saw (and heard) Steve Martin play the banjo, I thought he was going to just goof around, much like his later dancing in a couple of movies, but he played beautifully and clearly had a great talent for it. And he wasn't the only multi-talented performer. Most movie actors, if not each and every one of them, have many talents.

I have come to believe that these men and women have one supreme talent which they discover and exploit (Martin's comic talent, for example) but they also have numerous other ones that they picked up along the way to fame.
Shortly after I left the Navy, I met Randy and his wife. A charming couple; he played the guitar and she painted miniature pictures. One evening, Randy and I went to a concert at the Forum in Los Angeles and, after that, to visit the woman I married some months later. There was a piano in her parents' living room. Randy sat down in front of it and began to plunk a few keys. Within a few minutes, he was creating music. Beautiful melodies. He claimed to have never tried the piano before.

It is moments like that which truly depress me.

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