Wednesday, June 18, 2008

by Hannah Roveto

A friend sent me a YouTube video yesterday, you know the kind, that has been mass emailed by people all over the world for months and months. In it was footage of tiny Connie Talbot, who came close to winning Britain's Got Talent last year (Simon Cowell's U.K. TV talent competition). Maybe you've seen it, maybe not. I often delete these things, but then again, I check chain emails claiming to serve some altruistic purpose against urbanlegends.com.

I was moved to tears by Connie. I admit to being in a particularly schmaltzy mood these days, but my thoughts afterward reflected more, I hope, than a bad case of over-sentimentality. Three ideas that have made me smile for the past 24 hours:

One: When someone has real talent, it will be noticed. Some creative people ignore the bubbling sound from within, even for years, as the path it leads to might be (a) impractical, (b) insufficient for bill-paying purposes and/or (c) put one in a position to be critiqued and criticized publicly. If you are known around the gray cubicles or in volunteer subcommittees as "the writer," then everyone is telling you something you need to hear and do something about.

Two: If it comes from a pure place, there is power. You can want something with your whole heart, but you have to want it for the right reasons. To be famous is not a reason. To make money is not a reason. To do it because you love to do it, because you do it in your sleep, because you are miserable when you can't do it, now there's a reason. There is a pure place deep inside you, and if you cultivate it -- the trick to it all -- you will succeed.

Three: Sometimes it is better to be older. A postscript on Connie's story, for anyone feeling equally schmaltzy who links to her performance, is that Cowell's record company came back to the Talbots and told them they believe in the future of this little girl, but that she is too young to launch a real career in the music industry. Kudos to them for having the backbone not to turn a six-year-old into immediate paychecks. There were other companies less ethical, but I hope the Talbots heard the full message and understand that bright lights and applause are frosting on a grindingly hard and brutal industry. Sometimes maturity -- of the artist, not those around her or him -- is truly essential equipment in tackling a dream.

Bottom line: If you want to fly over the rainbow, ask yourself, do you have the wings for it? If yes, then do you have the strength for it, or the willingness to build up that strength? And if yes again, well, get out there and fly. Start low but head high. You don't ever be the one to be stuck on the ground at the end of the day wondering why, then, oh why, didn't I.

6 comments:

Larramie said...

What practical yet lovely advice,
Hannah.

The Writers' Group said...

Thank you, Larramie. As one who second-guessed herself at least subliminally, I wish I acted on what I loved sooner. Then again, maybe we only come to it when we are truly ready.

Hannah

Lisa said...

I may be alone in this, but when I see children this young who are in talent shows and beauty contests, I get a sick feeling in my stomach. Even when the children are talented, I feel that this kind of exposure is exploitative, bordering on abusive. I don't believe a six year old is anywhere near self-aware enough to want this kind of attention and I don't think parents do their children any favors by putting them into very high pressure, adult situations. This only makes me sad. When she'd 20, I doubt she'll remember much of this.

Gail said...

This post really touched me, Hannah

The Writers' Group said...

I agree with you, Lisa and hope I have not offended you in any way. I don't watch competitions between adults (American Idol, etc.), finding them painful for the public nature, nevermind anything that draws a child into that circle. As I said, I was stunned to be so moved by a performance and that moment stays with me, fortunately and unfortunately. Clearly, talent is a singular energy that should be fostered. However, how the person who carries that gift is managed and supported -- whether yourself or a friend, or most important of all, a child -- is what decides real success. Every parent/guardian has an obligation to make sure children develop into strong, well-rounded and grounded people, first and foremost. Their talents -- discovered early or late -- will always be there; however, if a child is not given the tools to carry forward with that gift and as a person on their own, the parents have failed.

Hannah

Lisa said...

You could never offend me! I apologize for going off on a tangent from the purpose of your post. I agree with you, but I couldn't help remarking that I have a really strong negative reaction to kids on public display. On your original point -- yes, I am with you completely.