In Bluebeard, Vonnegut writes:
A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but world’s champions.
Yes, how many of us moderately gifted people would second this? How many times in this blog alone have I moaned about being good at something but not great? I’m not a champion writer, painter, cartoonist, musician, conversationalist, poet, critic, or philosopher, though I may have some amount of skill in any one of those things. And how often I find myself resentful of my mediocre status, wishing to excel in one thing–in any one thing. But do you know what? This is greed. I’m given a portion of talent and it’s not enough. I want more talent, I want better talents, and I focus so intently on my lack of “championship” (as defined by the world, no doubt) that I neglect to realize that a gift is a gift and how greatly I’ve been blessed to have been blessed at all. To have any amount of talent is a gift from God!
I wrote about this very thing just a few days ago. I mentioned how I’d like to play the drums, but since I’m not a gifted musician by the world’s standards, that I should stick to something in which I stand a chance of being acknowledged. I was wrong. Since modern communication has alerted the world to talent like Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan and Sufjan Stevens I will never be considered a world class musician, but dang it, I like writing a song every now and then. And ironically, that modern communication which Vonnegut referred to has, since then, increased to such a degree that I can put my songs up here and here and, amateurish though they may be, they are out there for the entire world to hear. I can put my paintings, however unrefined, here, and my stories and essays here in this blog or wherever. I can put my comics in those papers who graciously oblige me, I can take part in an art show when the opportunity comes up. And I can be grateful and humbled by the fact that I have even an ounce of talent at all. To be labeled a “community treasure” feeds the prideful part of our nature, after all. To be spared such an ugly beast as pride is just another gift. I will joyfully embrace the talents I’ve been given, in precisely the magnitude they’ve been given to me.
You, reader, should think about this as well. I know you have talents.