Talent and Inspiration Posted on Sep 1st, 2008 by Marmalade

Talent and Inspiration

Posted on Sep 1st, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
I realized that I don’t work tonight and so I stopped by the coffeehouse.  I thought I’d do a simple blog entry.  I was downtown and the students are back in town.  I noticed a hack circle and I hadn’t hacked all summer.  I normally hackysack quite a bit when the weather is nice, but haven’t felt in the mood this year.

I’m pretty decent at hackysack, and I know some interesting tricks.  I’ve been playing soccer since I was a little kid and picked up hackysack in highschool.  I enjoy it in some ways, but it brings out a side of me that I don’t entirely like.  Hackysack isn’t exactly a competitive sport (although there are competitions).  Even so, it allows for ample showing off.  I can show off because I’m usually better than those I’m hacking with which doesn’t mean much since most people don’t attempt to be very good at it.  Most people just sort of kick back and forth.  I love the challenge of figuring out a trick, but I dislike the feeling of showing off.  I don’t know why that is.

Anyways, it got me thinking about talents.  I have many talents, but I don’t do much with most of them.  If I had taken hackysack more seriously when younger and had met more talented hackysackers to learn from, I could’ve been really great at it… but to what end?  In the past, I’ve spent endless hours simply repeating a trick to get it down just right… but its not a highly valued ability in our society.  🙂

I quit soccer in 11th grade because I didn’t see the point.  I was a very fast runner when a kid, but I was never great at soccer.  I had some natural talent, but never practiced much.  In order to be really good at something, you have to spend enormous amounts of time doing it.  And I’m not that competitive and I can’t say I’ve ever been a driven sort of person.  I was always a team player, but I didn’t really care if my team won.  And maybe that was a good thing as I was always on losing teams.  When a little kid, soccer was the game everyone played and I just enjoyed running around as kids do.  But sports become more serious as you grow older, especially in highschool.

Overall, I’ve never been a motivated person and partly that has to do with my not liking school.  Only once in my life did I have an inspiring teacher that actually brought out the best in me.  He was an art teacher.  I had always taken art classes and enjoyed them, but this teacher was a really great teacher that encouraged innovation.  He was the first person who taught me to think outside of the box.  I took art classes later on in college, but I never did as good of work as I did in that highschool class.  Unfortunately, I never felt inspired when not in the presence of that teacher.  Art was something I was good at, but it just didn’t capture my attention.  Just too much work and for whatever reason I never envisioned myself as an artist.

The talent I ended up focusing on is writing which isn’t something I cared about when younger.  I liked reading fiction somewhat growing up, but I was never obsessed with reading.  There was one thing that foretold my future.  My childhood bestfriend and I would tell collaborative stories.  In highschool, I started journalling very seriously and in later highschool became very interested in reading books with deep themes, both fiction and non-fiction.  But I can’t say I thought of being a writer at that time.  I really had no ambitions other than to understand life… which I’m still working on.

At this time, I had fallen into severe depression but hadn’t yet recognized it as such.  My truly obsessive nature began to show itself at this point.  I just wouldn’t let these questions go.  There had to be some kind of answer somewhere, but apparently older people were as clueless as me.  I found that a bit disheartening.  Back then, I actually still held the belief that with age came wisdom, but I came to realize most adults were even ignorant of the questions.  At least, my dad was always very honest about the limits of his understanding.  I like honesty.

I definitely had become more obsessed with non-fiction than with fiction, but I found few writers who actually inspired me.  Inspiration is a big thing for me.  I’ve always sought inspiration to counteract my apathetic nature.  By looking for inspiration, I was looking for my own inner motivation that tends to get lost with the years of conformity training that one gets in school.  I’m still looking for this inner motivation thingie, and I occasionally hit upon an ephemeral essence that feels true.  Give me another few decades and I think I’ll have it figured out.

Anyways, I’ve slowly realized that non-fiction for the most part isn’t what inspires me.  I’m inspired by imagination which is most often found in fiction.  On the other hand, fiction often lacks the depth of ideas that can be found in non-fiction.  What is a boy to do?  (Read Philip K. Dick is what. lol)

Okay, back to my life story.  I returned to my childhood home after highschool and reconnected with the aforementioned childhood bestfriend.  He also had become interested in writing, and so two aspiring writers were we.  This is when I started to take writing seriously and specifically writing fiction (because my friend was mostly into fiction).

So, after 20 years of my life, I finally found a talent that I cared about.  Unfortunately, it may seem, I found this talent at a time of my deepest depression…. not exactly a time of consistent motivation.

Over the last 10 or so years, I’ve slowly become more focused but its a struggle.  The internet has helped me to gain focus as online communities such as this give me the opportunity to play around with my writing.  I’m presently trying to get my mind back into fiction.  I even have a story I’m working on right now.

There ya go.  I could’ve been many things…
 …but a writer is what I became.

Access_public Access: Public 11 Comments Print Post this!views (166)  

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 2 hours later

Nicole said

Ben, I learned some important things about you tonight. Thank you. I really look forward to seeing your fiction when you’re ready to start unveiling it. It’s great to see you again! I’d missed you. Big hugs.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

about 8 hours later

1Vector3 said

Hey Ben, thanks for sharing your story. Never thought about the inspiration thingy and all the aspects of it you mentioned. New perspectives for me, goody.

I didn’t become a writer, I always was. It’s not something I do, but what I am. Breathe, write. No-write, like suffocating, or being strait-jacketed. Not to say this is better or worse than becoming a writer. Just noting a different life experience.

However, despite maybe 3 forays into fiction in my whole life, which weren’t totally lousy, I really have NO talent for it. Just can’t think up anything [my forays were school assignments.] So I really admire the heck out of you folks who have that kind of creativity. Really beyond me.More power to ya for contributing fiction to the world !
Finding the “inner motivation thingy” is crucial. If I were a praying person, I would pray for you that you find yours. I do “know” it is there, everyone has it. But sometimes it takes awhile in life to emerge, although often it get suppressed or repressed, and is actually visible if one knows where and how to look. Like: what feels like breathing? what did you do naturally as a kid? what would you pay to keep from being prohibited from doing? what gives you a feeling of elation, exhilaration? (even under the depression.)

Gee, idea-fiction, no dearth that I can see. Hesse? Ayn Rand? Colin Wilson (The Philosopher’s Stone, The Mind Parasites, etc.)? Theodore Sturgeon (e.g. Godbody, one of my top fave books.)? Ursula LeGuin? Just for starters. Maybe some don’t qualify for you, for some reason…..

Lots of depression is I think possibly basically biochemical, but I also go with those who say many depressions are really actual sadness about an actual something –a something which is kept outside of awareness –  and I also go with those who say many depressions result from giving up on having or being or experiencing what one most deeply and profoundly wants in life. And of course there is the inward-turned aggression theory. Do you know anything useful about your own depression?

I just don’t believe anyone has an “apathetic nature.” I believe a lot of folks got squashed, I have seen a 6-year old totally bored with life, it broke my heart, and I could see how the parents had done it. OTOH some young children are more exuberant and enthused than others who appear less interested in the world, the external world. And an introvert might get labelled “apathetic” and accept the label, but it wouldn’t be true.

Well, forgive my ramblings, and I don’t mean to pry for info, just offering my perspectives on matters you mentioned. No need to respond.

Keep ’em coming, I like the way you mix the personal and the abstract in your writing. Trying to think of other writers who have that combo. Lewis Thomas? Don’t remember him well enough.

Blessings, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 21 hours later

Marmalade said

*Hugs* to Nicole.  I suppose fiction is a different side of me, but you’ve seen some of that side of me with my discussion of PKD.  When it comes to fiction, I lean towards the imaginative which can take two forms: serious imagination or outright weird.

Now, to OM.  You gave me a lot to respond to.  I’ll respond in the order you wrote.

Becoming a writer.  Its an interesting thing.  I wasn’t raised with parents who were writers, but I was raised with parents who were thinkers and talkers.  So, I was raised with language, my mom is a speech pathologist afterall.  I also had a word-retrieval problem as a child and so I learned to compensate by having a large vocabulary.  As I said in the blog, I liked stories even though my parents weren’t all that into reading stories to me.  Reading books was one of my favorite escapes early on.  I was an imaginative kid and my bestfriend was very imaginative.  Still, I only started writing on my own in 8th grade.

There was one teacher who set my direction in life towards writing.  He was a decent teacher and I suppose I enjoyed his class fine, but he didn’t inspire me.  What he did do was challenge me with difficult texts.  He had us read many classics such as Jude the Obscure which is heavy reading for a highschooler.  It was also from the bookcase in his classroom, that I discovered Hesse.

I’ve at times felt envious of people who were raised by parents who read to them and encouraged them (or had teachers who inspired them or otherwise discovered writing early on).  My dad is a professor and so he helped me out with writing non-fiction papers for class assignments.  He taught me to communicate clearly and in an organized manner, but that is a long way off from fiction.  Being raised by parents who have absolutely no sense of fiction has been a challenge for me as an aspiring fiction writer.  My parents taught me how to think and to write clearly, but my imagination apparently was a gift of God or otherwise a genetic mutation.

Writing is something that slowly became more and more my identity.  Basically, writing is secondary to my most basic motivation.  I desire imagination, wonder, and understanding… but I also desire to express those things, to give them form.  I’m not a person who writes just to write.  I always have a purpose for my writing even if its just entertainment value sometimes.  I’m not a poet who just loves language for the sound of it.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 22 hours later

Marmalade said

OM Part 2:

I must admit that I sorta do know what my inner motivation thingie is.  The single running theme of my entire life is curiosity.  I’ve been asking questions and wondering about life longer than I can remember… meaning my mom tells me I was asking deep questions as soon as I could speak.

I realize that idea-fiction in a general sense is not lacking.  I have many similar authors I could mention, but I definitely agree with you on Hesse.  Beyond exaggerating for effect, I was meaning a specific type of idea-fiction.  I have a wide-ranging curiosity which isn’t easily satisfied.  Too many fiction writers are narrowly focused or else there ideas aren’t grounded in a deep sense of subjective experience.  For instance, one can find enormous amounts of ideas in SF and one can find enormous amounts of terrible writing.  It takes a special talent to combine fiction and non-fiction, the personal and the philosophical.

Partly, I’m just a picky person.  I know what I like and I have no desire to spend my time on anything else.  I doubt I’m actually communicating to you what I’m meaning about my perception of a particular kind of lack, but it will have to do for the time being.

Do I know anything useful about my depression?  That is an interesting question.  I know a lot about my depression and depression in general, but I won’t be so presumptuous as to claim any of it useful.  lol

Any number of theories may apply to my depression including the ones you mentioned.   One thing I’m sure is that it isn’t a single factor.

As for the apathetic nature statement, I didn’t intend any grand significance to it.  I mostly see my occasional apathy as a side effect of my depression.  As depression seems to run in both sides of my family, I have a strong suspicion that there is a genetic component.  In that sense, apathy is a side effect of my natural predisposition which doesn’t mean its absolutely determined… just a tendency is all.  Opposite of apathy, some people use depression as a way of driving themselves harder and accomplish much that way.

I don’t worry too much about depression.  Its just what it is.  I feel no need to make a value judgment about it or try to get rid of it.  Personally, I don’t think its a disease nor a personal failing.  Ultimately, its just a label given to a pattern of behaviors.  Its just a word.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 22 hours later

Marmalade said

I had a few more things I wanted to share about my talents. 

The hackysack is an odd example because its not as if one can make a career out of being a professional hackysacker.  However, my talent for physical tricks actually started with learning juggling as a kid.  I dated a girl who was going into juggling as a career and I went to a convention of professional jugglers.  It was very interesting, but I don’t have an interest in being a performer… back to not liking to show off.

Another talent I didn’t think of earlier is massage which is another odd talent.  I always liked giving people massages.  Eventually, I decided to go to massage school.  I liked learning about it, but I quickly realized I had near zero desire to do it as a profession.  Maybe its the same thing about not wanting to perform.

As a strong introvert, writing is more my style.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

about 22 hours later

Nicole said

dear ben,

i think you have a very healthy approach to your depression. you seem to have a really good way of coping with it from the many conversations we have had around it.

it’s interesting what a rich environment you had at home, though it lacked some elements for which you long. it does help to explain a lot about how you got to where you are now, a very unique person. yes, i know we are all unique, but i think you know what i mean.

serious imagination or outwright weird – well, they both can be good 🙂

i think you have a lot of important qualities which are helpful to you as a writer, for example, your intense ability to focus and do research for a long time; your ability to organise your thoughts and ideas, even when they represent a huge range; your amazing, zany sense of humour; and your astonishing flexibility in points of view.

Of course, that’s only the beginning of your qualities.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

1 day later

1Vector3 said

I so appreciate your elaborating based on my comments !!! I enjoyed all you said. I have nothing particular to say in response right now, nothing has formulated – yet….

Well, perhaps two things I can begin to word:

Ultimately, depression IS just a word, but I guess I would be motivated to do something to make it less. I have noticed certain limitations I have accepted with the passing years, based on things not working out, and I can see that sense of limitations is kinda like a depression, and I am working to get back the sense of open possibilities that younger folks have.

BTW I underline that I too perceive the four qualities Nicole nailed so well just above !!! Your research ability is SO amazing it almost looks so prodigious that it seems to me only the manic folks I know could do something like that. Strange to say !!!!

Asking deep questions, wide-ranging curiosity, “I desire imagination, wonder, and understanding… but I also desire to express those things, to give them form.”

Are those what is partly captured by the labels INFP?

I have a friend who has discovered 35 SOUL archetypes (beyond personality) and I think this fits one of them. I will ask him, and perhaps get a description for you, so you can see whether the other aspects fit you too. Just as an expansion of self-knowledge. Just a label, from one perspective, but it’s nice when things that seem separate somehow cohere, or can be seen to be various manifestations of/from a single source, I think.

Well there, I did manage to say something !! 

Yes, Lord keep us from those who write to be writing, ditto those who talk to be talking. Myself, I think I write to improve things/people/life/the world/systems/institutions/methods, etc etc. To be useful, a resource, for improving things. (Not so great at motivating improvements, but really good at facilitating improvements folks have already decided to make.)

The world needs more picky people. Go for it. LOL !!!!

Blessings, OM Bastet 


Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

1 day later

Marmalade said

Nicole, thanks for the kind words.

I don’t know if I have a good way of coping with my depression.  How I think of it is that its good enough.

OTOH, OM, I understand what you mean by how we can tend to accept limitations as we age.  I don’t know if this is necessarily problematic as aging does bring real limitations.  But, even within any set of limitations, there are always possibilities.  I guess that is where my sense of curiosity and wonder comes in… keeping me from feeling stuck.

Was my self-description related to the INFP type?  I’d say that it fits many INFPs.  The latter part of wanting to express would depend on how well they had developed their auxiliary Extraverted Intuition (and other social factors of course).

Type is a strange thing when considering family.  My parents are very different types than I am.  Research seems to show that some personality traits are genetically passed on.  I’m sure I get my Intuition (N) from  my dad and my Introversion (I) from my mom.  From what I understand of my grandmother’s personality, the genetics for the Feeling (F) and Perceiving (P) maybe came from her and skipped over my dad.  That is strange to consider how we carry genetics that will manifest in later generations even though they don’t manifest in us.  My grandmother died when I was around 6 and lived far away.  She wouldn’t have had much psychological influence on me and so I assume that it must be genetics (excluding any paranormal influences).

I unfairly downplayed the ways in which my imagination has been influenced by my parents. 

My dad’s family has a very strange sense of humor.  My grandfather was and my uncle is the kind of person who is constantly playing around and getting in trouble… a combination of physical and intellectual humor.  So, there is an immense creativity that I get from that side of the family, but they aren’t specifically artistic types and my dad has almost no interest in fiction.  My mom does like stories (ie movies) and she likes thinking about human behavior.  She does have some aesthetic sense when it comes to practical activities such as decorating a house, but definitely not an artistic type.

Another aspect is how my parents’ minds work.  My parents are people who constantly think but in very different ways.  My dad is constantly doing things or planning to do things, constantly reading and learning, constantly questioning.  From my dad, I learned that no question is taboo and curiosity is a very good thing.  My dad is very thorough when researching something, and is a very innovative thinker.  My mom has a mind that is even more active than my dad but not as much in an intellectual way.  Her mind is a wandering mind that runs very fast.  When my mom and I are having a conversation, we can talk very quickly.  Our minds resonate.  Even though our minds wander, we also can ruminate on the same thing for hours.

I think that I’m a product of combining the innovative creativity and silly humor of my dad with the wandering focus and interest in people of my mom.  Somehow that all adds up to an interest in the imagination conveyed in fiction. 

Plus, it seems my grandmother may have been more of an artistic type.  I suspect that she might have been an INFP.   She was a person of creative chaos and was lazy/apathetic in that she wouldn’t do anymore than absolutely had to be done.  She was always looking for meaning and was impractical in her idealism.  If that ain’t an INFP, then I don’t know what type she might’ve been.

BTW, OM, I’d love to hear about the SOUL archetypes.  I’m always curious about different systems, different ways of understanding people.  Because of Nicole, I was looking at the Enneagram recently.  I hadn’t looked at it in a while, but remembered myself to have been a 4w5.  I took a test that Nicole linked to and I came up as a definite 4 with some leanings towards 5.  The 4w5 description fits me as well as INFP.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

2 days later

Nicole said

Yes, same here, OM, as Ben says, I found the Enneagram very helpful recently in understanding more about myself and my friends, always looking for more grist for the mill.

It’s wonderful, Ben, that you and your mom can connect like that, and to see so clearly the influence of your family on who you are… I am fascinated.

1Vector3 : "Relentless Wisdom"

2 days later

1Vector3 said

I’ll see what I can do about getting info on the soul archetypes to you, Ben. The technological challenge is considerable…..

yeah, the Enneagram is IMO one of the top 3 or 4 typologies of real value in understanding self and others. Knowing my own type has been of major major major help in my own healing/wholing process. I do plan to post sometime my paper on the Enneagram One, The Healing Thereof, but it’s sooooo long, about 15 pages… But, I think, an easy read, at least structually if not in content !

Much as I have tried to study the Enneagram, and taken many workshops from a variety of teachers, and read several books, I can’t seem to retain the info about the points other than mine with a few exceptions like the 8, 3, and 5. Oh well.

And BTW I do not care for the Enneagram as it is commonly presented and taught, as a personality classification system; there it is IMO not much more useful than astrology. It doesn’t hang together. It only hangs together if you study it as a spiritual typology [which it was originally, apparently, in the Sufi origins] much more basic than personality.

Sandra Maitri’s book The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram is the only good book I know of re that approach, but it kinda buries the crucial foundational info. She learned it from A.H. Almaas, and I have a friend who also studied with him and wrote a much more clearly fundamental and lasered paper, which I have ambitions to make available on the Internet, am moving toward that. Almaas himself did write, and I have – I blush to say – yet to read anything he wrote.

I agree, Nicole, I am very impressed, Ben, with the eloquence and clarity you have around your parents’ characteristics and how these have interacted with your own.

Blessings, OM Bastet

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

2 days later

Marmalade said

Nicole – Yeah, the way I can connect with my mom is odd.  We are very different types, and yet our minds completely resonate.  Its kind of funny because my mom is super practical but also kinda spacey.  I apparently only inherited the spacey part.  lol

OM – I’d appreciate any info you’d like to share about the Enneagram.  I have yet to study it thoroughly.  For some reason, I’ve never really connected to it… and, like you, I can’t seem to retain the info.  OTOH, the MBTI immediately made sense to me and I found it easy to remember, but it took a while to understand the more complex aspects.

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