Ok, recently I’ve been thinking about how we have control over certain things that happen to us and how so many things are left to chance. Situations that we find ourselves in are the result of where we’re raised, the types of families we’re a part of and the various opportunities that may or may not come along during our lifetimes.
Have you ever wondered if you have a great talent for a particular activity, but you’ve never known about it because of a lack of exposure to that activity? What if you have a natural ability for painting, but have never taken a class or experimented with it? Perhaps you have the potential to be an award-winning violinist, but have never picked up a musical instrument (except for the recorder in 5th grade)? What if you were born to be a swimmer, but also had a fear of water that kept you from ever finding out that you had mad swim skills?
I’m sure there are countless people throughout history who could have done amazing things if they had been given the right opportunities. Allow me to illustrate, by providing two completely backwards examples.
The year is 1963. A baby Michael Jordan is born into the world. But here’s the kicker… instead of being born into an American family in Brooklyn, he’s born into a Russian, figure skating-loving family in the city of Krasnozamensk. He strives for years to learn the more common twizzle turns and flippity flips, but to no avail. His village peers skate laps around him and he decides that he was simply not meant to be an athlete. He goes on to be an average student in school, always wondering if he could have been more. Nevertheless, because he has been told his whole life that he was not made for sports, he concedes and goes on to become a nanny for a wealthy family who owns a hat-making business by the name of “Ushanka hat? We got ‘em!” In case you don’t know what a “ushanka” is and need assistance understanding that joke, here’s a picture:
Westerners try to introduce basketball to the country in the ‘70’s, but it is quickly rejected due to the incompatibility of the harsh Russian winters and inexplicably short basketball shorts.* Michael grows old, never realizing the magnitude of his unleashed talents.
Here’s another one…
What if beloved actor Leonardo DiCaprio had never been introduced to acting, but instead was born to an Amish family in Pennsylvania that didn’t own a TV or watch movies? Rather than starring in high-budget flicks about diamonds and sinking ships, he would plow the fields and build beautiful nude furniture from sunrise to sundown, periodically shouting “I’m the king of the farm!” Instead of sporting a modern hair-do, he would have an Amish-mandated haircut that would serve to ensure females were never attracted to him (this would be a pretty ugly haircut given his striking good looks). Luxurious hand-made suits would be substituted with hideous, yet practical, hand-made overalls. Rather than driving fancy sports cars and flying around the world on private jets, he would saddle up on his best pony.** One day, he would venture out into the non-Amish world, catch a glimpse of a movie playing on TV and wonder if he could’ve been an actor.
It really makes you think, huh? What if you are the Michael Jordan of a sport you haven’t yet been exposed to or the Leonardo DiCaprio of the arts? Think of all the things you’ve never tried. Haven’t skied before? Go skiing. Haven’t baked a pie? Go bake. Haven’t tried singing, other than in your car while nobody else is around? Quit your job, take singing lessons and start a band. Ok, no…I take it back. Don’t do that.
* I don’t have the slightest clue if/when basketball was introduced to Russia.
** A small pony would suffice, he’s a short little guy.