Long ago and far away a guy in funny clothes wrote in a language I’ll never speak.
An ancient pond
Frog jumps in
Three centuries later, Matsuo Basho’s vision blooms in my mind.
In Biblical days a talent was a weight of gold, and the parable of the talents [Matthew 25], teaches that anything precious must be invested. Now talent includes intelligence, creativity, strength, beauty, talent for words, dance, music, art, healing. It gave us Mikhail Baryshnikov, Mohammad Ali, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King, great artisans, gardeners, and makers of ships. My paternal grandfather was an artisan in wrought-iron. One of his lamps is still in my family. [see photo].
Amadeus, the movie about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is also about the jealousy of Antonio Salieri, resentful of the talent God gave Mozart. It exaggerates Salieri’s jealousy yet is believable. A real-life parallel is the jealousy of ice skater Tonya Harding, who connived to cripple Nancy Kerrigan, her rival. Kerrigan was injured but returned to world class skating. Harding, despite world class talent, sank into degraded notoriety. She lacked “moral” talent, and also the talent to enjoy any talent not her own.
Most of my creative energy went into making dances. Some have merit but are not in a class with the masterpieces of Paul Taylor, Alvin Ailey, Jack Cole, or Bob Fosse. It takes a rare talent to make Aureole or Revelations or Sing Sing Sing or The Rich Kid’s Rag, yet the talent to enjoy them is plentiful.
Vincent Van Gogh’s unhappy life epitomizes the pressures society can place upon talent, although if talent is recognized and allowed to flower, talent and happiness can exist in the same person, Talent loves freedom. China recognizes the power of talent, and rewards those who possess it, yet a continual outflow of talented writers and artists into free societies reveals China as an inhospitable place for talent. The U.S. gives talent plenty of scope, yet has people who fear others who are “too smart.” Newt Gingrich, constantly attacking “elites,” panders shamelessly to those fears. And talent born into a poverty-stricken village in Africa, a Dalit [untouchable] child in India, a nomadic tribe in Siberia, is lost. The world desperately needs the bounty its talented people can supply but will get it only when talent is warmly welcomed and lovingly nurtured wherever it appears..
For a feast of Basho Haiku,click this link BASHO