The talentless artists

When I was 16 years old I met Rufus Müller, an English-German tenor. He wouldn’t in a million years ever recall this story, but for some reason it stayed engraved in my memory.

We met in a kind of artistic ‘farm’, I won’t go into much details because the project is closed now, but it was a place in rural Portugal that was trying to give the opportunity for children in those isolated areas to learn about the arts and culture, hence the artistic gatherings. Anyways, Rufus was there to perform, and I was there to help serving coffee, drinks and snacks to the audience.

One morning we ran into each other in the kitchen, we started chatting as we had breakfast and he asked me how come I spoke English so well. I went into this non-sense and over complicated explanation, I can’t remember the exact words but it was along the lines of: ‘my dad is from Belgium, but we live in Portugal; as I don’t speak French or Flemish, because I never learned it, I speak English so I can talk to my cousins’. (Must have been something like this, because that’s my current explanation. That and TV). He stared at me and laughed out loud and said ‘that makes absolutely no sense. You must be an artist.’

We laughed loads, went on to our lives and for some reason, I never forget that. ‘You must be an artist’.

Looking back now I think that maybe Rufus knew me better than I knew myself.

I won’t dare make the presumption to say that I am an artist, because let’s face it I don’t really have an art to show. But I do have an artist soul, a way of seeing things if you will. I have a friend who feels the exact same way, and when we’re together we often have the most random, special, weird, exoteric, bizarre and awesome conversations. The last time we saw each other I told her, that I felt like a talentless artist, because I’ve always felt I was an artist at heart, but I never found a talent (yet). She laughed and said ‘I know exactly what you mean! We’re the talentless artists!

I realize now that it’s a really hard concept to explain though. I’ll try. When Robert de Niro gave his speech to the 2015 graduates (I wrote a post about it, here) he said ‘You discovered a talent, developed an ambition, and recognized your passion, and when you feel that you can’t fight it, you just go with it.’ That’s where it all starts, for most of the artists (not all): they discover a talent. Once they know what they want, they fight for it. And it’s a difficult fight. Some artists kind of just fall into the profession by accident, but those accidents never happened to me.

In my case, I have never spotted a particular talent. I tried acting when I was 14/15, and actually I wasn’t bad, but I didn’t feel like it was really my thing. I know for a fact I can’t sing, dance (properly; because improperly, WOW), paint or play any kind of instrument in a way that would be enjoyable for people to listen. And the thought of me modelling is just hilarious (although I did use to parade in my grandparents village wearing my grandmas most ‘luxurious’ night gowns).

I guess because I always had a very structured side, I assumed I wasn’t made for the arts after all and was a perfect fit for the corporate world. My oh my, it only took my first ‘proper’ job interview to realize how ‘so-not-true’ that was. I remember sitting there staring at the door and wondering why on earth would you want to work at a place where you have to swipe a card and go through that little barrier – you know the thing with three or four little bars and that turns around when you swipe the card, but if you don’t move fast enough the other one will hit you in the butt? Back to the story, honestly I stared and my only thought was ‘NO. No. I will not become a sheep in a herd. A herd that makes products!’ So I boycotted that interview. It was for Unilever BTW. After that I boycotted a few more, but at some point instead of listening to my heart, I listened to reason and decided I needed to stop boycotting and get a job. So I tried a little harder (not much, my interview skills are definitely not my talent) and got a job.

Don’t get me wrong, corporate world is perfectly all right. I am not an anarchist at all, nor do I think big corporations are the anti-Christ. Not at all. I actually enjoyed my time (well some of it, I can’t lie), but most importantly I met amazing people who changed my life. And I had fun. And I did swipe a card, just like I have to swipe a little thingy at my new part-time job at the charity. It’s not that bad to be part of the herd.

But I do think often, that I should have listened to my heart, because it knew me better than I did. Just like Rufus, my heart was pointing me in the right direction.

If you follow the blog you’ll know that I don’t believe in regrets, but I believe in learning with your mistakes, and if there’s one thing I learned is to listen to my heart more often. And I have. So far ‘listening with heart’ has ruled 2015. And the results? Well, I still don’t know my talents, or if I have one. But I do feel in touch with my inner artist, more and more, every day. I’ve also learned how passionate I am about writing, so there, maybe that will be my talent? Yes I know, presumptuous of me. I also found other things I like to do, but whether or not I am talented at it remains to be discovered. I’ll be exploring those talents soon, and promise to share.

Haha it could even be a vlog ‘the quest for a talent’ and everyday I’d try a different one; how hilarious would that be?

See, listening to my heart, bringing out my silliness (which to be fair I never really hid anyway), opening up my mind, is somehow working for me. I am not sure how, or where I am heading but for the first time I am not afraid of the unknown. I am a talentless artist on the search for a talent (if you see any let me know).

Calvin and Hobbes
Calvin and Hobbes

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