Robert Birming

Natural talent

I saw the documentary Beach Boys and Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road. Really good and interesting about a fascinating genius.

To say that he has had a hard life would be an understatement. His challenges are of a magnitude that most of us can't even imagine.

But there is one part of life that has always been there as a close companion, a buoy to cling to when the whole sea is storming:


When he talks about his music and art in general, he says:

It's very personal and something that comes naturally. A natural thing.

Those words could be the explanation in a dictionary when you look up the word creativity. It's natural, not something forced. And it's personal, with a distinctive quality, depending on the person through whom that creativity is expressed.

This made me think of the term natural talent. We often think of it as a person born with a set of extraordinary abilities. But is that the case?

Perhaps these people are simply more open and receptive (and often introverted at the same time — life's paradoxes) to the natural creativity that yearns to be expressed. A gateway to inspiration, a word derived from the Latin expression for "bringing something to life".

I remember a TED talk where the speaker talked about a poet who could almost see inspiration flying. If she was out in the field, she would turn around and run back to her desk to make sure she didn't miss it.

Such extreme expression is rare ... thankfully. But maybe we can try to be a little more sensitive. Perhaps think more in terms of something created by us rather than we creating it.

A subtle but important distinction.