08 August 2015

Wasted Talent

I was once told, by an old salt whom I respected and whose opinion I valued, that "you have boating in your blood the way you run that thing," that thing being the Rhana-B, my father's bristol, 1963 Egg Harbor 37, his last in a long line of boats before he swallowed the anchor back in the mid-seventies. [Link is to same model, different boat.] My reply was along the lines of (but to be honest, probably not as polished as), "In my blood, perhaps, but I don't have boating in my heart."

That something is/was "in your blood" doesn't necessarily mean it's beneficial. Jewelry, thanks to a family business, was in my blood for years. So was alcohol. Neither were the best things for me.

Just because you have the capability to do something well doesn't mean you love, or even like, doing it—or should do it, if you truly dislike whatever it may be. I grew up on and around (and not frightened or throwing up over the side of) boats and didn't mind running my father's pride-and-joys, it just was not something I would pursue or continue on my own despite all the exposure and experience. Some are quick to call this ability to do but choice to not do "wasted talent." To them, I offer this:

Think of something you truly dislike, even hate doing, but despite that, genetics and/or environment created a sick little joke that made you an absolute prodigy at whatever it might be. Would you want to do it for the rest of your life? Yes, you say, if you can make a great living doing it. Don't be so quick to make that deal.

Continuing to use pleasure boating as an example, the forces of romance, status and pride can seemingly fog the concept of a good time. So many of the boat owners I witnessed during The Boating Years looked positively panicked and miserable running these complicated and expensive toys they owned, much of the misery coming from their near total operator incompetence manifesting for all to see at the most critical times, e. g., backing down into a slip or rafting with another boat. And I speak not of new boaters "learning the ropes" (including that they're called lines) who with practice become proficient and capable yachtsmen; I speak of those who have been putting themselves through this for years, with little or no improvement in skill and confidence. Who likes a hobby that regularly betrays one's incompetence and causes embarrassment? All those people manning boat hooks and dropping fenders over the side aren't the boating community joining together to help and be courteous, they're merely scrambling to defend their own and other people's personal property from damage—they've seen this "captain" in action before, and no, it wasn't just a small scrape. Pardon my conceit, but when I backed dad's boat into the slip, people on either side just hoisted their glasses in salute and stayed right where they were.

Once she's all tied up and the engines are shut down, the owner/operator should walk from the helm and stand on the bridge with a look of pride and accomplishment on his face, not weak-kneed, I-need-a-drink relief from the torment finally being over until the next good time he has to suffer through.

Whatever your hobby or "claim to fame," from boating to baking, you should love performing the process as much as you love presenting the achievement. It may sometimes offer a challenge, but should never be an ordeal.

Not everyone who wants to dance can, but not everyone who can dance wants to.

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