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Inspiration, Effort, and Art

Carl Thress | Saturday, February 20, 2016

I’m fortunate to have known and worked alongside some amazingly talented people over the years — musicians, songwriters, programmers, photographers, actors, thinkers, visionaries, and visual artists of every stripe who possess more skill in one pinky finger than I could ever hope to attain.

As someone more comfortable expressing himself in writing than through visual, oral, or musical means, I have tremendous respect for those who do possess those skills.

I was inspired to write this post by a doodle I saw from a former schoolmate, who also happens to be an amazing artist. The detail, emotion, and depth of character she captures in a simple pencil drawing rival the best poem or story you’ll find and certainly put my own feeble efforts to describe that sketch to shame.

If I sound jealous, that’s because I am. But more than that, I’m inspired. You see, I know her ability did not spring up in a vacuum. Yes, she has a great deal of innate talent, but she has also made a concerted effort to hone that talent through education, training, and years of dedicated, meticulous practice.

Her life has not always been easy. It’s included some real struggles and hardships, and those experiences have manifested themselves in her art and enriched it.

That’s the way it is with all great artists, writers, musicians, athletes, inventors, and entrepreneurs. Nothing great was ever accomplished without effort. Those of us on the outside only see the payoff — a memorable performance; a song, story, or piece of art that moves us; a business venture that revolutionizes an industry. What we don’t see are the years of practice, struggle, and effort it took to get there.

And yet, we do.

As with my artist friend, the gifts we see manifested in others are molded as much by struggles and setbacks as they are by accomplishments and accolades received along the way.

The same is true for each of us. We all face heartaches, disappointments, failures, and pain. We all struggle sometimes. These challenges shape our decisions, add depth to our character, and color our lives in ways we may never fully understand.

So, while most of us will never create great art or invent the next big thing, that’s okay. Our lives themselves are our greatest masterpiece — a perfect reflection of the trials, triumphs, and people we’ve encountered and inspired along the way.

Stepping down from my soapbox and depositing two pennies in the jar...

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