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Author Topic: Using our gifts/talents  (Read 6091 times)
Juniper
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« Topic Start: December 11, 2008, 01:39:01 pm »

Last year I was often told by a member of my family that I was "wasting my talents" by not going to University to do something that they thought I had a special talent for. They also insinuated that this talent was given to me for a reason, and that it was a bad thing for me not to be using it.

Even though things have calmed down now, these words have played in my mind for quite some time. It has gotten me thinking about what I've heard people call a 'God-given talent', and whether I believe these exist or not. Do our talents come from an external force, or from within ourselves? Or perhaps even from both?

In addition, regardless of where these talents come from, do we have a duty to use the talents that we have? Why/why not? Does it depend on what kind of talent it is?

Is there more of a duty to use them if these talents are considered to have been given to us by the Gods/a particular Deity?

What do you think?
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« Reply #1: December 11, 2008, 02:15:09 pm »

In addition, regardless of where these talents come from, do we have a duty to use the talents that we have? Why/why not? Does it depend on what kind of talent it is?

Is there more of a duty to use them if these talents are considered to have been given to us by the Gods/a particular Deity?

What do you think?

I think this is a complicated question.

I DO think that if we have talents, we should use them.  Religiously we're the Eyes and Hands of the Divine - if we have a way to improve the universe and we don't do it, we're wasting an opportunity.

THAT SAID - I think that it's an open issue, not a closed one - a gift for math shouldn't mean you have to become a mathematician.  Maybe it means you work for the IRS but you find a way to make it better.  Maybe you go work for a congressman to help him understand the statistics he's being given.  All kinds of things - and some of them are obvious, and some of them are not.  (maybe you teach high schoolers - also worthwhile!)  Some of them will be viewed as a waste by other people.

But you also can't look at just one thing and say that's the sum of a person.  Maybe what's most important isn't an obvious talent, or isn't something you can use well until you've gained other knowledge.

So - yes we should use them and yes they're important, but it's not always as simple as "gift for X, do X".
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« Reply #2: December 11, 2008, 02:27:21 pm »

Do our talents come from an external force, or from within ourselves? Or perhaps even from both?
I'm inclined to believe that our talents come from a combination of biology and practice.  We may attract the attention of particular deities based on our talents, but I don't think Gods are 'manufacturing' humans, so to speak.

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In addition, regardless of where these talents come from, do we have a duty to use the talents that we have? Why/why not? Does it depend on what kind of talent it is?
  No, I don't think we have a 'duty'.  We are blessed with free will and should choose the paths we think are best for ourselves.  That said, I believe in the saying "it takes all types to make the world go round" and I could hear myself saying, "it's a shame that person doesn't use their talents".  But ultimately, it is one's own choice.

Perhaps you'd make a real good medical research scientist, for example.  Maybe you would discover the cure for AIDS.  But I don't think it's your duty to take that path. 


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« Reply #3: December 11, 2008, 02:44:48 pm »

No, I don't think we have a 'duty'.  We are blessed with free will and should choose the paths we think are best for ourselves.
I agree. This issue is a little pet peeve of mine. I think it's more important to do what you enjoy, rather than do things out of any sort of duty or guilt of not doing them.

I'm not sure whether gifts or talents come from the gods or not. I have a friend who is very Catholic, as well as being a gifted animal communicator... she's also learning about healing and is occasionally clairvoyant. Do I think gifts such as these come from the divine? She certainly thinks so, and she certainly thinks it is her absolute duty to find some way to put them to use for the betterment of man. I'm just not sure. I'd probably lean more in the favor of science and genetics/environment... but I'm open to having that opinion changed.

Either way, I think what you do with your life is your own choice. And I don't think the gods can be terribly upset with you for choosing or not choosing it.
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« Reply #4: December 11, 2008, 03:36:04 pm »

What do you think?

Let me think 'aloud' about your questions here.

Do I think talents are gifts from higher powers? Well, don't know, really.
Define 'higher power' - could be genetic, subconscious, divine or something we don't even can get a glimpse of.

Do we have to use them?
A talent for something means it is easier for you to achieve something in that special field.
You might paint wonderful like-real-life pictures, you might solve the most complex calculations in the head.
Whatever that talent is, the question is: is it useful to you? Does it serve the things you want to achieve?

I mean I just suck at maths f.ex. But even if I could multiply 7-figured numbers in the head, that would be of no real life use for me and for what I want to achieve. So I wouldn't use this talent, except for party fun maybe Wink

Just because your family thinks you should go this direction because of a talent, you still have to go your own way, you know.

Some people build their lifes around their talents - but I don't know if that is so good.
We all know of those talented kids that have to play piano or chess for 8 hrs. a day. I don't think that giving up everything else for just one thing is always a great idea. Might be worthwile in some cases, but still...

OTOH one might love to paint, but is awful with it. So what, if you do it with passion and love it?

Well, I guess it is a thing that has to be decided in each case separately.
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« Reply #5: December 11, 2008, 08:49:55 pm »

I DO think that if we have talents, we should use them.  Religiously we're the Eyes and Hands of the Divine - if we have a way to improve the universe and we don't do it, we're wasting an opportunity.

THAT SAID - I think that it's an open issue, not a closed one - a gift for math shouldn't mean you have to become a mathematician.  Maybe it means you work for the IRS but you find a way to make it better.  Maybe you go work for a congressman to help him understand the statistics he's being given.  All kinds of things - and some of them are obvious, and some of them are not.  (maybe you teach high schoolers - also worthwhile!)  Some of them will be viewed as a waste by other people.

But you also can't look at just one thing and say that's the sum of a person.  Maybe what's most important isn't an obvious talent, or isn't something you can use well until you've gained other knowledge.

So - yes we should use them and yes they're important, but it's not always as simple as "gift for X, do X".

I think I understand where you're coming from. I hope you don't mind if I reiterate what you're saying a little bit, just to see if I've got it right.

We are meant to try and do good in the world, and one of the best/easiest ways to do so is by doing it in a way that we're talented at. Thus, yes we should use our talents.

Yet the best way to use our talents might not be as straight forward as: I'm good at Math, I have to study Math and then become a Math teacher. In fact, the talent that you end up using for good might not even be apparent to you until you're in the process of using it.

If this is what you are saying, then I agree. I think that's a good way of looking at it.
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« Reply #6: December 11, 2008, 08:50:50 pm »

We may attract the attention of particular deities based on our talents, but I don't think Gods are 'manufacturing' humans, so to speak.

I agree with you here.
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« Reply #7: December 11, 2008, 08:56:53 pm »

Some people build their lifes around their talents - but I don't know if that is so good.
We all know of those talented kids that have to play piano or chess for 8 hrs. a day. I don't think that giving up everything else for just one thing is always a great idea. Might be worthwile in some cases, but still...

OTOH one might love to paint, but is awful with it. So what, if you do it with passion and love it?

This is such a good point to raise. I hadn't even thought of including the questions; what if you don't like your talent, or what if you're not talented at the thing you love.

In the first scenario I think that it's not right for somebody to feel as though it's their duty to use a talent which they dislike. And then I think: even if their talent could do so much good in society? Is it not selfish if they refuse to use it? And yet it seems unfair to expect somebody to be so selfless as to do something they dislike purely for the benefit of others. Hmm...this is a tough one to ponder.

In the second scenario I think that even if you're not all that talented at what you love to do, you should still do it. If it's your passion then by no means should it be taken away from you.
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« Reply #8: December 11, 2008, 09:30:05 pm »

If this is what you are saying, then I agree. I think that's a good way of looking at it.

you put it better than I did. Smiley
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« Reply #9: December 12, 2008, 01:54:03 am »

THAT SAID - I think that it's an open issue, not a closed one - a gift for math shouldn't mean you have to become a mathematician.  Maybe it means you work for the IRS but you find a way to make it better.  Maybe you go work for a congressman to help him understand the statistics he's being given.  All kinds of things - and some of them are obvious, and some of them are not.  (maybe you teach high schoolers - also worthwhile!)  Some of them will be viewed as a waste by other people.

But you also can't look at just one thing and say that's the sum of a person.  Maybe what's most important isn't an obvious talent, or isn't something you can use well until you've gained other knowledge.

Well stated. A particular talent can be applied in many ways, some of which may be more enjoyable than others. Most people's talents aren't so specific that only one career will work out for them, like, say, making piano keys, or impersonating a gorilla.

In general, I've noticed that people who try to meddle too much in the choices of others are often unsatisfied themselves. A former boyfriend, for instance, just after I started college, tried to convince me that I had a talent for physics (which I do) and that the only way to apply that was to become a physicist like him. Anything else would be a waste. He was very disappointed when I told him that I preferred to do something else. I apply physics to my research all the time, and in general I like it, but being a physicist was not the life I saw for myself.

There are over 6 billion people on the planet; life is too short to do something other people "need" you to do under the weird expectation that no one else in the world could fill those requirements.
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« Reply #10: December 12, 2008, 08:14:48 am »

Well stated. A particular talent can be applied in many ways, some of which may be more enjoyable than others. Most people's talents aren't so specific that only one career will work out for them, like, say, making piano keys, or impersonating a gorilla.

I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately.

I am (in all modesty) a quite talented artist.  Am I using my artistic skills right now?  no.

"omg!" I hear the people exclaim.  Allow me to explain why not...

I can draw well.  I enjoy it.  But right now, I don't feel that's what I need to be doing.  I practiced at it, honed my talent, and then moved on (for a variety of reasons, but that's a story for another post or thread, and only if people are interested).

What DID occur is that I developed a patience I didn't know was possible.  I learned to focus, pay attention to detail, and work at something until it was perfected.  I also learned when to stop, call things done, and move on.  This all developed over the last 25 years or so, and I really would not be the person I am today without my artistic background. 

Yes, the art is great.  My pieces look cool, other people seem to enjoy my work, I've sold my fair share, but who I am right now is not an artist. (well, really I'll always be an artist, I suppose the correct phrase would be active artist in the sense i am creating pictures)  I DO use the skills I learned (focus, patience, attention to detail) in all other aspects of my life.  And that's where my talents REALLY show their value.

Turns out my talents are a stepping stone to build myself into a better overall person.  (and overuse parantheses  Cheesy)

I've come to terms with that, but everytime someone finds out I can draw, and asks to see my portfolio, without fail I am hounded with the question "why aren't you doing this full time??"  I tend to smile, shrug, and change the topic, most people don't seem to understand if I try to explain the real reasons.  It's because I did do it full time and I nearly burned out, and I would like to keep the talent at the level it is at.  I still do a few drawings now and then to keep myself in shape, so to speak, but the fulltime days are behind me (for now, maybe when i retire in a few years i'll go back to it, who knows?)

Speaking of retiring, I eventually got led into the business world - and now I manage a team of customer service agents.  In some respects my artistic talent hindered me - it was an obvious talent that I focussed on, and for 20 some odd years that focus kept me from realizing that I really am a people person, and I'm GOOD at teaching/coaching/helping others - far more talented in a more subtle way than I ever was at my art, but at the same time I might not be as good as I am without the patience and focus learned from the art.  It's like a reverse catch-22 Smiley

In the first scenario I think that it's not right for somebody to feel as though it's their duty to use a talent which they dislike. And then I think: even if their talent could do so much good in society? Is it not selfish if they refuse to use it? And yet it seems unfair to expect somebody to be so selfless as to do something they dislike purely for the benefit of others. Hmm...this is a tough one to ponder.

In the second scenario I think that even if you're not all that talented at what you love to do, you should still do it. If it's your passion then by no means should it be taken away from you.

And that really sums up the essence.  Perhaps the talent itself is not important, nor what you do with it.  Perhaps what's important is how you work with it, learn from it, and apply what you learn - even if what you learned does not seem immediately obvious to others. 

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« Reply #11: December 12, 2008, 02:25:13 pm »

I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately.

I am (in all modesty) a quite talented artist.  Am I using my artistic skills right now?  no.

"omg!" I hear the people exclaim.  Allow me to explain why not...

I think the reason why people go 'omg!' is that they often wish they could do the same.
My own artistic skills are modest and I wished they were better - but I also know, they could be better if I'd invest the time to hone them.

People only see the result of the work you put in, you know?
And they think: oh what a great pricture, I wish I could do the same! But they don't see that they maybe could.

Someone I knew had the opinion, that you can learn everything. If you invest time.
Some of us achieve mastership, some not.
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« Reply #12: December 12, 2008, 04:12:29 pm »

  No, I don't think we have a 'duty'.  We are blessed with free will and should choose the paths we think are best for ourselves.

I agree completely with this.

Also, I think we should strive to come 'full' human beings and that includes that you do not deny parts of yourself. It doesn't work (and it's not that I think it's wrong, I just have experienced it makes people generally very unhappy, me certainly included) if you try to exclude certain talents. Not because it's your duty to anyone else (being mundane or a higher being) but because it is, in a way, a duty to yourself to be you.
If you're smart, you're smart. If you're creative, you will be. I picked something up from the buddhists: doing everything you do the best you can and with full attention, not getting distracted by futures or pasts, just focussing on the thing at hand and doing it as good as you know how. And if you do, at least, that's my experience, you will somehow use many of your talents, that just seems to happen.
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« Reply #13: December 12, 2008, 08:01:22 pm »

Also, I think we should strive to come 'full' human beings and that includes that you do not deny parts of yourself. It doesn't work (and it's not that I think it's wrong, I just have experienced it makes people generally very unhappy, me certainly included) if you try to exclude certain talents. Not because it's your duty to anyone else (being mundane or a higher being) but because it is, in a way, a duty to yourself to be you.

I agree that it's not generally a good thing if you try to 'exclude' certain talents ie; ignore a part of yourself. But what if you feel said talent actually stands in the way of the life you want to live? And by that I mean: you have two talents, one which is your passion and the other which you don't care for. Do you think its wrong to ignore the one in persuit of the other?
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« Reply #14: December 13, 2008, 04:45:05 am »

Not a very elaborate answer, but I was rewatching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets yesterday and was thinking about this thread when Dumbledore elaborated on why Harry was in Gryffindor while Voldemort was in Slytherin:

'It's not our abilities that define who we truly are, but our choices.'  Cheesy

I think in HP it's the theme of hubris. Voldemort is someone who uses his abilities to expand his power no matter what, making things just because he is able to, expanding the 'boundaries of magic' like some crazed scientist (in some cheesy sci-fi movie) achieving goals 'against nature'. That's the negative side of (mis-)using your talents.
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