If we want to do something well, we have to repeat it. In that sense ‘talent’ is a most overrated quality. Having a talent, having intelligence, guarantees nothing — and in many cases may be an obstacle. The only way that talent will bear fruit is though repetition, through doing something boring over and over again until it becomes embodied, or part of the body. At a certain point the repeated activity ceases to be mechanical and becomes as natural as breathing — even if it some kind of acrobatic superpower. And by superpower, I mean that in a literal sense: as some kind of transcendental power.
Writing, for instance, is a superpower — if we do it well. To gain that superpower correctly we have to do it almost every day of our life until it becomes second nature. Most bad writing out there — writing that is too baroque or hard-boiled, too abstract or journalistic — is that way because the writer doesn’t write enough, or doesn’t have enough dedication to his or her craft. We may be too casual about writing, or do it as a ‘job’ instead of a passion. We learn to become good fakers, but the writing remains second rate because it is not embodied — is merely mental mirroring. Writing is also a labour of the heart, not just the intellect. It’s easy to be an intellectual, but difficult to be a writer who transforms his own and other hearts in the act of writing.
How does one do this? Who knows? It is a mystery, a freak accident. Writing comes from a wound, for nobody would write anything if they weren’t severely wounded in some sense. But writing is an act of repairing that wound, a the sense of separation. Of course, it could do just the opposite: the writer could injure his soul by becoming too mental, narcissistically addicted to word formulas — lost in a flat earth of words. Writing is a dangerous business, not really recommended if one his after sanity, that is.
Of course, there are other realms that have equal or greater value to writing. Being a dancer or an accountant — a waitress or a plumber or dog-walker or a mother, for instance. The people who do these things the best are the ones who do it all the time, with spirit and dedication. Some people have the spirit and not the dedication, and they end up psychologically shipwrecked. Others have plenty of dedication to the wrong thing — they may be doing something because somebody told them to it, or they were indoctrinated to believe that this is what they should do.
What we need to do is find the thing that aligns with our spirit. As soon as we find that, we will be relentless until we have mastery over it and then it will start to do us. We will become animated by a larger spirit than ourselves, by a dedication that is superhuman. It’s not that it will ever be easy to use our superpower — but ‘easy’ is not what the Samurai is after. In fact, ‘easy’ is rot to his soul — the Samurai is dedicated to making his load heavier. However, there is intrinsic meaning in this difficult activity, and a certain amount of grace results.
How will we know when we have a real superpower? Because we will notice that we have become of service to the people around us, that we can light a fire in their hearts. Because superpowers are contagious.