"Before I am the master, I am the slave"
Jan Paderewski, Greatest pianist of his age
Is there such a thing as a true prodigy? That is someone so talented that the minute they take an interest in a subject, it is theirs and they are immediately expert. Most of us, to become good at something need to practice, a lot.
It goes without saying, the long road can be discouraging. You fall in love with an art and it is all you can think about. No matter how hard you work, you keep falling short.
Teachers and others offer criticism not to disparage, but help yet it is hard to believe what they say and not come away disheartened.
Chris Esper’s short, Still Life, is a meditation on this subject. Martin was born to be a photographer, or so he thought. His pictures are good, but teachers and classmates critique him and he does not take it well.
At a showcase, it seems he has some love from the audience with a couple of kind comments. Then, Elaine, a professional photographer, offers an opinion that crushes Martin. The showcase ends and Martin leaves downcast to say the least.
Elaine, approaches him and tells him what is happening to him happens to everyone and to buck up in the kindest way. Her empathy, as she had been in his place, is genuine and Martin takes heart.
Not all of us can be superstars and some people even obsessed will never succeed. A small man even with talent should recognize that the goal of an NBA career cannot happen. I love music, but all the practice will not lead to a career. Still, judgment is necessary, and setbacks even for the gifted are Normal. No one was telling Martin to give it up.
The long quote of Ira Glass’ words at the beginning sets the tone. There is someone who did not get discouraged.
Go get ‘em kids.
Still Life is on Twistflix here.