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The Village Idiot

If I should ever grow up

Jack Deatherage, Jr.

(8/2012) I was reading one of Derek Siverís blogs. I donít know why, other than he and I struck up a brief conversation back when he owned and I was haviní trouble giving him my money. (Heís about as opposite me as one can get.) Now that heís worth tens of millions of dollars, and I owe more than Iím worth- about $1,200, we still touch bases. Heís moved a few times over the years, West Coast, then East, Sweden and on to Singapore where he seems to have happily settled. Iím having a bad garlic year and heís encouraging me to learn more about growing the herb, food, medicinal. Derek mentioned a couple of books he thought worth reading so I hit the county library website and ordered both.

The Talent Code by Daniel Cole and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin left me in the dust, though either is readable if one has at least the attention span and focus of a fruit fly (which I donít.) Both books get into how talent is created rather than a birth gift. Something about deliberate, deep (introspective) practice causing the brain to layer certain nerve fibers with an insulation called myelin so electric signals sent along the fiber are stronger. Whatever one is practicing at will be repeated later as if one has some innate skill. (Obviously, my deep practicing has been with less than useful skills. Bending an elbow thousands of times a month soís to lift and tilt a beer bottle hardly seems useful these days. And I doubt much myelin was being laid down along alcohol soaked nerve fibers anyhow.)

As is typical with me, I glimpsed the basic ideas of the books and lost interest in reading the rest of them. (Comprehensive reading is a skill I need to practice!) Still, I got enough out of the books to understand my problem. I donít know where I want to go. However, if I figure that out I know where to go to learn how to get there. Maybe.

Another aspect of growing a talent is the 10-year rule. Top performers in almost every endeavor; require ten years of deep practice before they (apparently) explode onto their chosen scene as a star. At age 58, I not only have to decide what I want to be when I grow up, I have to be willing to put ten years of deliberate practice into becoming it. Iím not sure any of the interests I have are interests Iím likely to be interested in at age 68. Maybe wine and mead making. Maybe garlic growing, maybe arrow slinging, and maybe bread building. If any of those things offer some monetary reward, well, the how of it escapes me, like most things involving the turning of a profit.

I suppose I could practice my storytelling, but I have trouble speaking English plainly and clearly. I havenít an interesting voice either. Iíve long suspected people who stand and listen to me pontificate do so out of fascination more than interest. "My god, he can make almost speech like noises! I wonder, is he trying to tell us something? Will he attack if we try to slip away?"

There not being much use for an unintelligible, mush-mouthed storyteller I might turn to writing. Or maybe not. Somewhen after Sister Rosemary whacked my fingers with a ruler during a phonics lesson (1960, I believe it was) I kinda lost interest in much other than avoiding teachers in general. By the time I got to grammar, I was long since ready to escape the school system and would have if Iíd of had a clue as to how a preteen could live in the woods season to season without adults chasing me down and sending me back to prison. That, and I was puzzled and fascinated by my dadís intense interest in his getting an education. Sadly, Jack, Sr. didnít understand the difference between schooling and education any better than I did.

Beings Mom always said Dad was "a jack of all trades and master of none" I figure I can tread where heíd gone. Working in the factory to keep a roof overhead, learning to grow and sell garlic against the day I get a capitalist clue, pecking out my little stories to amuse myself until I get one right, practicing with the bow until the arrow follows my will. Yeah, I think I can do these things. Maybe on Sunday mornings now that Iím finished with the IWLA youth program until this fall.

Jack 3 and I have decided to create a world where in we can place the fictional people that occupy our minds and see how they react to each other. Setting up a table in front of the factory to sell garlic, taters, green beans and the occasional melon from sun rise Sunday, until the sun comes over the building around noon, would give me a chance to read about garlic growing, practice my bow handling and scribble illegible notes between customers. I should get plenty done, as I canít imagine anyone in this area wanting garlic so much as to seek me out. More likely, Iíll sit and peel garlic for the dehydrator. The few garlic customers I have now, get their garlic via the post office, or my handing it to them at their front doors.

I wonder what Jack 3 will think of my first character, a garlic growing, illiterate bootlegger who defends his family with cunning when he can, arrows if need be, and despairs when he loses loved ones to forces beyond his ken. Knowing Jack actually practices a philosophy (heís a Stoic, Roman I think), I suppose heíll be more impressed with the bootleggerís wives and their daughters who accept the inevitable and make the best of it.

And thatís what Iím working on. Making the best of what I have. Practicing at laying on the myelin until I cover some nerve well enough to discover that "Ah-ha!" moment when I realize Iíve found what Iím supposed to be doing.

Poor Wanda is sure it will be drinking homemade wine and mead, or napping. Maybe both.

I read these columns aloud until they almost make sense to me. Wanda happens to be in the room as I mutter this one. I asked her what she thought of it so far. Proof of my storytelling prowess, sheís sound asleep in the recliner behind me. (I think sheís a Stoic too. A Greek one who simply endures.) Maybe I should look into marketing my recorded voice as a sleep aid?

Read other articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.