Monday, February 20, 2006


Here is a column that I got a lot of response to.
Hope it strikes a chord.

The concept of talent is something I think about a lot. It mystifies me how some people can become brain surgeons, and others carpenters, and still others physicists and musicians and oceanographers. I mean, just where do these gifts come from? What genetic forces are at work that can spawn a virtuoso violinist from the union of two tone-deaf people? And when you see people with tremendous athletic ability, don’t you just wonder what their moms and dads were like in their youth? And how about someone who grew up in Kansas deciding to study the deep blue seas?
When I think of talents as gifts, it reminds me of the Bible story where the master gives the servants talents and sends them on their way. Some use them wisely, gaining more talents, some hoard them, and at least one guy squanders his. Any parent can attest to the hope that their children will use their talents well. We all encourage our offspring to try new things, to practice hard, to give their best. For who really knows if the little booger is a dancer or flutist or potential World Cup goal-scorer?

Which, in a round-about way, brings me to the talents of yours truly. I can’t really play the guitar, in spite of having one for almost 20 years. My high school physics teacher gave me a “D” in my senior year so I could graduate with my class. (I pulled a whopping 32%!) Thankfully, Jill pays the bills and balances the checkbook, keeping us both out of debtor’s prison. And me and tools never have been become all that well acquainted.
I guess there are just some of us who are consistently average. Oh, I changed a part on the washer last year and the basement still hasn’t flooded. I can handle a few things around the house, like light bulbs. But when it comes to anything that has a potential of breaking at 70 miles per hour, or producing serious electrical shock, well, there is a reason that the yellow pages is full of professionals.
I do have some unique skills. Nothing that anybody would pay good money for, but valuable nonetheless. There’s my world class ability to nap just about anywhere, anytime. I somehow have gathered a vast storehouse of useless information that keeps my kids forever groaning. I can do a dead-on impression of a geek, with glasses over the ears, pants hiked up, the whole mess. Always good for a giggle.
So I say, so what if I will never fix a brain, discover a new species of platypus, or solve a quadratic equation. Or even replace an electrical outlet. I just have to do the best with what I’ve got, like the vast majority of us.
After all, being exceptionally ordinary may be a gift in itself.


angelmeg said...

I aspire to be Patron Saint of the Mediocre some day, St Maggie the Pretty Good, they will call me.

tesimonies will ring throughout history that "She was okay"

You think too much.

If you are loved, and are capable of loving in return you are a very lucky man.


rdl said...

You are too funny and self effacing. You have the wonderful talent of writing of course. I was thinking that maybe you should let your column know that you blog?? and let us know here when your column comes out.

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Anvilcloud said...

I often wish that I could think with someone else's smart brain or inhabit someone's athletic body, just to see what it's like. I've been competent at a number of things, but that's the extent of it. I am Joe Average.

~m2~ said...

the saints were quite ordinary people who had an extraordinary love for God and all things. i think you are right up there with them, tom :)

rdl said...

was hoping maybe to find a monday wkly post here. i will patiently wait. thanks for stopping by with your kind words. r