Talents and Getting Older

When we were in New York City last month, we attended a local Manhattan LDS ward for church on Sunday. The services were almost exactly like ours here in Oregon, a comforting truth about visiting Mormon churches anywhere you go in the world.

As is typical, there was a musical number offered between two of the speakers. Two women got up – one to sing, one to accompany her on piano – and I prepared for a pleasant, if not expectantly normal, song. What the entire congregation received was so much more.

Turns out, the singer was Erin Morley, bona fide star at NYC’s Metropolitan Opera and a member of this congregation. She sang so beautifully, and with such passion and grace, I was overwhelmed with emotion (and actually cried!). It felt like she was placing a blessing on each and every one of us with her talent.

Erin Morley Opera

Opera star Erin Morley. Note: this is NOT how she appeared during her song at our church service! 🙂

In addition to being awed by her voice, I felt a great stirring in my heart and a very pointed question in my mind: what am I doing to share my talents? Am I blessing others with them?

The one talent I can acknowledge with greatest confidence is my ability to write. I have a handful of others, but writing is the “one.” Over the years, I’ve tried to do what I can to share that talent, including writing on this blog. And I hope something I’ve written has blessed another person.

But, honestly, I have found that as I get older – and busier, more distracted, and in some cases less committed – acknowledging, developing, and sharing my talents tends to fall by the wayside.

When kids are young, it seems that everything is geared toward discovering and exercising their talents. We put them in lessons, encourage them to practice, they take classes or join teams and learn to develop skills and find out what they’re good at and (hopefully) love. But unless they actually enter a career that continues use of those talents, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to use those talents as they age.

I’m observing that conflict right now with my oldest daughter. She played flute – and later, piccolo – for seven years through middle and high school, but is not majoring in music. Now at college, her focus is on her Creative Writing studies, and although she tried to play casually with the school’s band, any time spent on flute takes time from her other priorities. She worries about the practicality of keeping her talents with flute part of her new, everyday life.

While I think that growing older may give rare opportunities to discover and develop new talents, it seems the norm is that our talents get outpaced by the need to keep up with growing responsibilities and the changes that naturally happen as we grow up.

Have you struggled to keep up with your talents as you’ve gotten older? Or especially as you’ve become a mother? I’m very interested in hearing what you think!