If I had a dollar for everyone who said “Ooo you’re a writer? That sounds so awesome! I would give anything to be a writer because working at home in my pajamas sounds so wonderful!” I would have enough money to buy my own cable channel and launch the 24-hour KittenWars Network.
I could buy all the telecommunications in the US if I added everyone who would give anything to play the piano like me (which is easy because I suck), or be a photographer, or a computer guru, or dancer, or chef, or what-have-you. The truthful completion of “I would give anything to [foo]…” is either “anything except exert myself” or “but I have no confidence that I should even try.”
We’re not born with cool skills. They’re the result of a lot of work. I think parents and teachers sow the seeds of discouragement in children when they praise their achievements by telling them they’re oh so smart, or so awesomely talented, rather than complimenting their hard work. That makes it sound like they need to be born with the proper innate abilities, and if they’re not then forget it. Which is not so, because anyone can learn to do anything; learning is the disciplined application of study and practice, and not being born as some kind of special person.
But aren’t musicians born with special talent, and ballplayers with special physiology, and physicists with uber brains, and stuff like that? Perhaps. Some things come easier to different people, but the greatest talent in the world is no good if it isn’t developed. Usually we see only the finished product, the book, the movie, the winning athlete, the new science discovery, and we don’t see the thousands of hours of study, work, failures, and do-overs. It looks effortless because we don’t see everything that went into it.
I think everyone has some secret desires, and lack only a bit of encouragement to explore some of them. One of mine is to learn the Linus and Lucy song so that I can sit down and bang it out on public pianos. (Like the awesome grand pianos at Nordstrom’s, oo lala!) I’ll never be Mitsuko Uchida, but it’s fun and challenging and that’s what counts.
Anyone can learn to do anything, and you’re never too to try something new. Remember what Dear Abby used to say when people thought they were too old to work towards achieving a dream? Her reply was always “So, how old will you be in five years if you don’t do this?”