Most people's true talents crystallize at a very young age. I am sure Lebron was running fast breaks in the womb; I am sure Houdini spent all of kindergarten making the classroom gerbil disappear.
Then, you have people like Carrie Underwood who claim on their myspace page to have been very shy until college when their sorority sisters coaxed them to sing, sing, sing, and that's where it all began.
But we know better. It all began much much earlier.
I consider myself an above-average writer, and have since the 2nd grade when I wrote a story for extra credit about teddy bears who lived in Heaven. The story was called Angel Bears, only, because the initial part of my reading education took place in a progressive school that didn't believe in phonics or making education anything other than standing in a circle and giggling when the first grade Farmer in the Dell picked a wife IN THE FIRST GRADE, PEOPLE, I really didn't know how to spell sometimes. So the title of my story was Angle Bears and my mother read it and laughed through her nose the whole way through it, thinking about the cherubic little angular furballs I had invented. Other than the creation of a new species, though, there was not much to the story. I believe it ended with the following cliffhanger:
And, so, for the bears, it was not such a fun day after all.
Yup. A truly precocious author-in-residence, age 7.
"It's kind of boring," my mother told me. My mother, who was somewhat Victorian when it came to talking about sex, has never held back in talking to me about money or how boring something was that I had written. The way she said it was encouraging, though, in that she knew I could do better. She knew I wasn't a boring kid. I had an imagination, after all. So why didn't I use it.
I'm not sure if I remedied the Angle Bears, but the sentiment that something that I had produced could make even my mother bored stuck with me. Whenever I write, even if it is a report about fungus, even if it is a letter thanking Auntie Do for the new pantyhose, I strive to just not be boring.
I try to write something creative every day. I have kept a journal of some sort for most of my life, and I think that this exercise not only helps to maintain my creativity, but I believe it helps me to treat others better. When I write things down, I meditate. I channel my feelings through appropriate veins instead of through abusive expositions of the maltreatment I received from the first grade Farmer in the Dell.
I think the fact that I am always writing and always revamping also makes me extremely hard on myself and somewhat hard on others in terms of stretching their creativity. I find a lot of new TV shows (i.e. "Notes from the Underbelly," anyone?) to be abysmally cliched. If the writers were my children, I would probably get to the end of the script and pose the rhetorical, "It's a little boring, isn't it?"
And then I would consider the fact that the first story I ever wrote was extremely boring, and full of misspellings, and without that first attempt, where would I be? Perhaps among the clouds, struggling to wrap my arms around the unpleasant geometry of my stuffed animals.