The talent myth perpetuates itself from generation to generation. Even you and I have unwittingly passed it on.
At the first display of creativity, family and friends heap admiration and encouragement on the child. But unless some vast gift is evident, our oohs and ahs dwindle as the novelty fades. The once enthusiastic response to a drawing becomes, “That’s very nice dear, but don’t bother Daddy now, he’s watching TV.”
The unexpected and hurtful drop in interest and attention breeds self-doubt. And doubts have a way of multiplying. It’s ironic and sad that as parents we help a myth dim the creative lights in our children—just as our lights were dimmed by our parents, who suffered the same treatment from their parents.
The situation worsens. Self-doubt intensifies in a school system with the modus operandi of pitting children against one another. The gifted child gets praise and an A, the others a cursory B, C, or worse. “I don’t know if I can” becomes “I can’t.” The lights go out on the urge to create.
Miraculously, some creative youngsters do make it unscathed to adolescence. But then, more often than not, the awakening of the sexual urge smothers the artistic. Peer pressure shorts out more lights. The few that remain have to somehow survive well-meaning family and friends chanting their chorus: “You can’t make a living in the arts. Get a real job. Be a lawyer, something respectable that’ll earn good money.”
Only the few kids with talents as rare as diamonds make it through all the negation. The myth wins again.
And the rest of us? We face the facts. We must find our place and fit in. We try believing that everything needed to make us happy can be paid for with cash or credit cards. We wise up, toughen up and start to compete. We fight for prescribed goals. We become our jobs, our money, our possessions, our problems, and cover our precious individuality with a cookie-cutter social facade.
Sometimes we win life’s battles and gain some relief and gratification, but it never lasts; the success is never all that we hoped for. Something is always missing. We move on to all manner of things to relieve the stress of playing the same tired old unfulfilling game. Still, through it all, many of us pretend everything is just fine.
But there are unsettling times when we see the bright light in the eyes of a child and a message sneaks through our carefully constructed barriers. We wonder, what happened? Not even realizing why, we can feel just a little homesick and wish we were back again in our magical, creative childhood world, filled with the promise of dreams to come.
The Bible says, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” But it wasn’t the Lord that tooketh away our creativity. It was our belief in a myth.