Talent: Inherited or Learned by Lois Hewitt 


It is a beautiful evening in Western North Carolina.  I am sitting in my she-cave with no lights on except for my little fake Christmas tree, listening to my favorite 70s classic rock (slightly louder than I should), and enjoying a cup of herbal tea.  For just a few minutes, it all feels perfect!

Then my mind, as it usually does, starts to wonder.  This is something I used to spend hours thinking about, but haven’t given it a thought in some time. Is talent inherited or can it be learned?  I’m listening to Bob Seger tell a story about his life, everyone’s life, set to music.  Then I think about Ayn Rand and the way she used a story and her words to change my perceptions of life.  As I struggle to learn the guitar, it is clear that I do not have the internal talent many musicians have.  You know the ones who never took a lesson yet shred the guitar most impressively.  Painters, architects, seamstresses, and the many other talented artisans in our world with God-given talent.

I opened my mind to the arts in my 20s.  I took a Humanities class and nothing has been the same since. I learned to love art, even if I did not understand it.  For example, I tried to read Shakespeare’s sonnets to no avail. I had no idea what he was trying to say, but I appreciated his efforts.  After some time, I tried to find my very well-hidden talent. Because I reasoned, doesn’t every person have a specific talent?  I have a friend who is an excellent painter as is everyone in her family.  I know people who can sing, dance or play an instrument.  I know a young lady who can transfer her thoughts into words in the most eloquent of ways.  I know all these talented people, they surround me and yet I feel like I missed the day talents were given out. 

So again I ask myself, are these talents inherited or can they be learned?  I still do not know. How many Bob Segers are there, really.  Not everyone can compose like Mozart or play numerous instruments like Prince.  Or write like Fitzgerald.  Those people, who truly have a gift, and enrich the world by bringing beauty into it. Art is a life force in and of itself.  It takes nourishment to be created but then returns it in the form of beauty for one’s soul.  I suppose that not everyone can have artistic talent.  That makes me sad as I am one of those people not gifted.  But……

I have learned that there are other types of talent outside the artistic realm.  Some people can pull out spectacular outfits out of old clothes.  Then there are the people who can truly listen to others and feel genuine empathy.  The person with an encouraging word at just the right time.  The perfect cookie, a hand-knit scarf, a helping hand and a kind gesture are all talents. I see it now, not every person can be an Adele, but every person has inside of them the talent to affect change in the world.  

I’m never going to be a Hemingway and, I guess, I am ok with that. I would rather be a tortured writer creating written images that will transcend time, but, alas, that probably will not happen.  Can I help someone in need? Most definitely.  Can I listen to a friend who is struggling with life?  You bet.  Can I make my corner of the world a little better?  I certainly hope so.  Those are my internal talents as well as some I have picked up on my journey. 

So is talent inherited or learned?  Yes!  It’s both.  We all have our talents, the ones we are born with.  But we can also learn new ones. Ones we experience on our own or discover on our own journeys.  I realize that there is no need to feel like I missed out on something.  Sometimes the answers are not that obvious. 

So tonight as I listen to some great music while sipping an artisan tea, I am so pleased that I learned to appreciate the talents of others. That is a talent, and one I plan to hone. 

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