Talent Show

Tonight we enjoyed the elementary school talent show. My daughter chose not to perform but we went to support her friends. There was singing and dancing. A few guitar and piano solos. A violin duo. Two magic acts. Martial arts. A break dancer on a pogo stick. An Elvis and Michael Jackson tribute. Ukulele punk rock. A girl who solved two Rubic’s Cubes with ACDC’s Thunderstruck playing as background music.

I was struck by the bravery of these kids standing on stage and showing themselves — their interests, their passions. Some of these kids were already well-trained in their talents. Otherwise were just finding them for the first time. These kids were audacious and wonderfully weird.

I began wondering how many of these same kids would make it through middle school still as eager to stand in presentation before all their peers and be so bravely, unapologetically themselves, so wonderfully weird. I hope all will, but I fear too many will not. Something tragic happens to us sometime between elementary school and adulthood. Just as we begin to explore and understand our passions, our curiosities, our interests, something tells us to stop being silly, to set those things aside. We begin to question our innate riches. We stop ourselves from exploring. We surrender our talents.

We make too much of talent, I think. We praise it too highly in others and too often fail to credit very much of it in ourselves. The elementary school talent show is a reminder that we are all innately talented. We can’t all sing beautifully but we can all sing with exuberance. Discovering and developing a talent is a wonderful thing. Better than talent is the courage to stand in front of your peers and be known as you truly are – audacious and wonderfully weird.

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