I was recently reminded of this quote by Kurt Vonnegut:
“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes. And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.” And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.” And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.”
As I take a break from trying to make some cabinet doors for our laundry/mud room, something I am not good at but sure enjoy trying to do it, I also see the connection to Vonnegut’s quote and many other things I try to do – simply because I enjoy doing them including this blog. Vonnegut’s ideas line up quite nicely also with the philosophy behind the book, Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse.
Here is another example of that connection in my own life, my songwriting. I recently collaborated with a good man in England to write this tune and then I tried to sing some background vocals. Having absolutely no musical training, I have to try to figure things out a bit organically. I find harmony fascinating, so I gave it try. Peter did the lead vocals and all the instruments. I do like this song very much, if simply for its message of love and a few special lines in the lyrics.