Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday 13 - Talent

Listening to the radio the other day, I again was awed by the ability of musicians to take the same notes everyone else has access to and make something unique. Got me to thinking about talents and skills, knowing I have a few that make other people go, "Gosh, that’s so cool you can do that!" and yet there are things other people can do that I cannot that make me applaud. Here is a list of thirteen talents or skills I admire that I do not possess:

1. Quilting. Something all our great grandmothers could do as a matter of survival. I have tried my hand at it here and there, with middling results. Perhaps that makes me appreciate all the more the skill it takes to quilt at county-fair-winning level.

2. Painting. More than just getting the idea across in broad strokes, I admire people who can do lighting, shading, perspective and proportion. Have you ever tried pointillism? Did it turn out like "Sunday in the Park with George" or more like that color-blindness test? Me too.

3. Ice skating. Granted, the ones we get to watch on TV are all champion skaters with years of toil behind the skills, but who can watch ice dancers glide across the rink and not be impressed? That is, among those of us with two x-chromosomes.

4. Witty verbal repartee. Give me a pen and paper—and time to think—and I'm witty as hell. On the fly? Not so much. Must be the reason I'm a writer…

5. Gymnastic tumbling. I can do simple things; somersaults, cartwheels, roundoffs, even a front handspring. Backbend? Halfway back I get the heeby-jeebies and can't do it. Standing backflip? Holey moley. Aerials on the balance beam? Phew!

6. Math without paper. Simple math—addition, subtraction. When I was still in school, I could do calculus in my head. But if you don't use it…dh adds, "She can't add while the car is in motion, either." He's right. I hate to sound like Barbie, but "Math is tough!"

7. Spelling without writing it down. Can't do it for words longer than four or five letters.

8. Dancing. Pro-level skill, like on the show "So You Think You Can Dance." Perhaps, like with quilting, it is my amateur-level skills that let me appreciate what these people can do. I've studied ballroom, folk dance, medieval dance, modern dance w/ a touch of ballet, jazz, and belly dance. Making choreography look like natural motion—that's talent.

9. Infinite patience with small children. A la preschool or kindergarten teachers.

10. Ability to hit skeet while shooting at them. Makes it much more fun if you hit any of the clay pigeons. Alas, while quite good at stationary target shooting, I have not had enough practice with moving targets and a shotgun.

11. Playing any instrument other than a piano. This includes singing. Although I did sing in my high school jazz choir (for which I had to audition), I was not one of the larger voices. My pitch is perfect but I ain't soloist material. Piano has 88 keys, no more no less. I assumed every instrument had some range of all of those, but the way to get to those notes on, say, a violin remains a mystery to me. Someone once tried to teach me the guitar, but I was unable to retain the info, or stretch my fret hand fingers the correct ways. I bow in awe to Edge, Eddie, and singers like Celine Dion.

12. Music composition. On the heels of that is my amazement that anyone comes up with new tunes. The musical scale has been studied well back to the Greeks, perhaps before that. The mixture of instrument voices, percussion, rhythm, timing, key, pitch, harmony, melody—when it's right it can be exquisite. How does anyone come up with new songs? I guess they ask the same of we writers—there are only so many words in the English language, made of the same 26 letters. How do you come up with anything new?

13. Plan meals. Unless it's for a special occasion like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or houseguests, I don't plan. I can't. I'm incapable. My culinary desires fall more toward, "What do we have in the kitchen already? I'll throw that together." Add in a husband who changes his mind at the last minute about what he desires to eat and a five-year-old who wouldn't eat it anyway, and…no planning.

So that's a tad about me, or not about me…something. What about you? Are any of those skills you have? Are there any I did not name that you admire but don't have?