… I’m not an actor, for one thing. They’re picky that way.
Ah, talent. We all want it. And, as I’ve been assured since a very small boy, we all have them. My particular talent is learning things after it is too late.
In between fifth and sixth grade, I began to really, really like girls. A little observation showed me that girls preferred, in order: (1) cute boys; (2) athletes; and (3) musicians. The first two seemed off the ‘possible’ list, so I decided to become a musician. Here are the results of said effort, forty years later:
“Prelude” by Sergei Prokofiev. Yes, that’s actually me playing the piano.
I learned to play the piano as an adolescent, desperate to attract girls. And I (more-or-less) succeeded, at least with the first half of that equation. However, when you are sixteen years old, and proudly displaying a months-practiced performance of “Jeux d’Eau” by Maurice Ravel for your crush, who responds in a bored voice, asking if you know “Free Bird”, you realize you miscalculated somewhere.
We peacocks spread our feathers, while the peahens walk by, indifferent, having noticed a brighter set of feathers down the way.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Many of us leave adolescence proud of being different, but few us go through it that way. I was, it had to be admitted, a little different. Like many of you, I found, in high school, people I had as much affinity to as possible, but my interests were so varied and so odd that the fit was tenuous, at best.
Part of my problem was naïveté; I believed that love or friendship meant a perfect fit, rather than a perpetual fitting. In a way, relationships are like clothes, they only “fit” long-term if we are engaged in constant altering. However, the concept of alteration seems a relic of a bygone age; buying new clothes is easier.
Fast-forward adolescent me to twenty-something me, and I had realized and accepted that I was different. I therefore attempted to bring off “bohemian” as a lifestyle, with some modicum of success. However, where I lived and at that time, the common interpretation of any sign of bohemianism was that the perpetrator was a “low achiever”, or perhaps even a “loser”.
At that age, I frequently felt that I was some kind of great, undiscovered genius. I alternated thinking that with genuine self-loathing, which in no way seemed a contradiction. Common consensus supported the self-loathing. It was rather confusing.
I had shown at that age, through an odd chain of circumstances, a talent for sketch and speech writing; I was able to use that for a period of time in the job I had back then. Various big shots would be retiring, and they would want to plan some entertainment for these somewhat lavish parties. I was on a committee planning one of them, but ended up doing virtually all the planning: when the evening came off well, I suddenly was flooded with requests to do more. Since my health had begun to allow such things again, I kept up a kind of side business in event planning for a period of about 18 months.
What I found when writing was that I was much more comfortable creating in a genre where no one was looking at me while I was doing it. Even in music, I had always preferred composing to performing, or accompanying to solos. Writing seemed ideal for this, even if the writing I was doing was strictly for humorous purposes.
However, at the end of that period of time, I decided to begin work on a Master’s Degree (in math and stat) at night, so I had to leave off creative pursuits for a time, or, at least, publicly facing ones. I continued to write songs privately, as time allowed. The degree (and about five more years of exams) led to me switching to the career I have now as an actuary.
When I met the woman who is now wife, she expressed (and continues to express) a great love of my songwriting and piano playing in general. So all that work did pay off — just 25 to 40 years later than I had expected at the time.
Performing, though, is not really my thing, so eventually I landed on blogging. I switched to mostly poetry back in 2014, and here I’ve been ever since.
I no longer feel like an undiscovered genius; I would say, these days, I feel more like an undiscovered buffoon.
I don’t expect I’ll ever be “discovered” as that term is popularly understood. I am grateful to people who read and like and take time to comment on my blogs, as personal interaction — which I am admittedly not terribly good at — is what this is all about. Not being discovered by unimaginable masses of humanity is probably just as well.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, either.