Use it or Lose it?

I’m not sure where this effort is going. It might last only a paragraph or two or it might turn into an epistle, but I’m going run with the thought anyway. For some reason I have been suffering from a form of writer’s block, known as … well, writer’s block. It’s been plaguing me for several months now and it bothers the hell out of me.

Usually, I’m full of ideas to write about. They come to me at all hours of the day or night and usually I’m able to flesh out the thoughts with very little effort. Lately, however, the ideas seem to be still born; lifeless as a corpse. To make matters worse, I’ve found myself urging others, some with a demonstrated ability to express themselves well, and others with life experiences that should be shared, to put pen to paper and share what they have with the world. I feel like an alcoholic who’s fallen off the wagon telling another alcoholic who’s never been on the wagon, what a great deal sobriety is … over drinks.

One of, although not my only reason for writing Dear Mom and Dad, was at my age the specter of the looming possibility of standing before God and hearing Him say, “And that one talent I gave you, what did you do with it?” Yes, I know that I’m kind of patting myself on the back to say that I have a talent for expressing my thoughts in writing, but facts are facts and I do possess the talent. It’s a God given gift.

I don’t believe that if we have a talent and don’t use it that it will be taken away and given to another as the parable in the New Testament says. I do believe, however, that it’s sinful, wrong if you prefer, to have a talent, especially a recognized talent, to let it go to waste. Not only is it sinful/wrong, it’s terribly sad. It’s sad because of the loss of joy that comes from making good use of a talent is never experienced. It’s sad because of the lives which will not be enriched by the experience of enjoying what you could have shared with them.

With this in mind, a thought occurred to me during lunch with a friend, who has a wealth of experiences from her job to share. She said she’d tried writing down those experiences but never got very far. She seemed to feel that she wouldn’t be able to express herself well enough. I found myself encouraging her to “just start writing.” I then went on to explain some of the ways to go about it, but the bottom line was … “just start writing.”

Of course you know what happened next. A not so quiet voice in my head, said, “Physician, heal thyself!”

A natural talent for writing is not necessarily a requirement for doing so effectively. In the case of my friend, writing down her experiences would be the tool for sharing the results of her real talent, which she has shared with the world for years. That, then becomes a matter of the level of passion one has for sharing ones talents and/or experiences with the world.

I have another friend who has more than one talent, but for one of those talents she has a true passion and it shows when she’s exercising the talent. When she is expressing that talent I become totally mesmerized by her and simply cannot take my eyes off of her. She has, whether consciously or unconsciously, managed to combine talent and passion in a joyful expression of herself which is truly beautiful to observe.

I have seen glimpses of that second talent frequently and look forward to the same sense of joy in observing that expression as much as I do the first. I believe that if and/or when she has perfected that other talent and mastered the ability to share it with the same passion she has for the first, that she indeed will be able to someday stand before God in full confidence of hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have used what you were given very well” I hope to be in that audience when it happens.

In the meantime, I need to remember the admonition I heard frequently in years passed, that just as a professional athlete needs to go back to basic training once a year to re-hone their talent by simply suiting up and showing up and doing the exercises again and again, I need to suit up and show up at my desk and do finger pushups on the keyboard whether I feel like it or not.

And I will always encourage others to follow the path of their talents and experiences whenever I see an opportunity to do so. So, if you’re one of my friends who needs a push be ye forewarned.

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