“The delicious singing of the mother — or of the young wife at work — or of the girl sewing or washing — Each singing what belongs to her, and to none else.” –I Hear America Singing; Walt Whitman
I like taking pictures, but I know I’m not a photographer. I’m a huge fan of music, but I’ll never be a musician. I appreciate code, but I don’t plan on a career setting up complex website structures. In fact, most people have one strong talent or love, and they hone that until it’s as sharp as a two-edged sword. They are defined by it as surely as if they were born with that ability. A select few are even especially talented at two individual pursuits, but if asked to choose they would still tell you that one is more important to them than the other. It is the nature of selection, of preference, and of design.
If you asked me right now where my talent lies I would tell you it’s in writing. It was my first love, and it continues to give me the most pleasure of anything I’ve ever done in my life. The fun in writing, for me, is the ability to create and live in other worlds, in other people’s minds. Shannon A. Thompson, a fellow author, asked a question on Twitter last night that intrigued me. She said, “Has a reader ever thought you were your characters?” And that’s precisely it. As a writer, just creating characters that resonate with others, that inspire these thoughts and questions, that’s validation.
When I hear most popular rappers try to actually sing, I laugh out loud, not because they sound horrible (although sometimes they honestly do), but because of the shock to the system of seeing them outside of their natural environment. Singing is not their talent area, but they try, and they are uninhibited because they’ve already conquered one area. The same is true of anyone from another walk of life trying their hand at acting, as if anyone can be a good actor, but that’s not true. There’s something to be said for putting all of your focus on one thing and doing that well.
Walt Whitman had a point in his poem above, that every single person has a talent and is important to the overall fabric of his/her country. Everyone is needed to make the larger song flow, like members of a chorus. We need altos, tenors, sopranos, and bass singers to create a melody, just like singers, writers, construction workers, chefs, and every other walk of life are necessary to keep the country going. That makes every occupation important, even the ones we haven’t traditionally counted as occupations, also like in the poem excerpt above. Women (and some men these days too) who dedicate themselves solely to being at home to raise the children and “homemake” are just as important as anyone in any other job.
Do I sometimes wish I could carry a tune better? Sure. Do I dream of being a professional football player on occasion? Definitely. But I know where my focus is greatest, and what I will work toward to continue making that a reality. I know my place in the scheme of things, my individual contribution to society, and that makes me appreciate not only myself but everyone else who is also doing their part to keep the fabric sewn together.