I’m reading a book published a few years ago, “What the Dog Saw”, by Malcolm Gladwell. I love these quirky books about what makes people and society tick. So, as I’m reading a chapter in this book about “LATE BLOOMERS” it hits me how true this is true for so many of us. Whether or not you’re a late bloomer I believe you’ll see why I think this is so important for us ALL to know. Changing our understanding about this could radically change the people around you… and it could radically change how you view yourself.
Let me start by introducing you to a trimmed version of the passage that got me thinking…
From “What the Dog Saw”, Part 3, “Late Bloomers”
… [Mark] Twain fiddled and dispaired and revised and gave up on Huckleberry Finn so many times that the book took him nearly a decade to complete. [Like Twain and others, ] the * Cezzanne’s of the world bloom late, not as a result of some fault in character, or distractions, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error, necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition.
. . .
On the road to great achievements, the late bloomer will resemble a failure. While the late bloomer is revising and dispairing and changing course and slashing canvases to ribbons after months or years, what he or she produces will look like the kind of thing produced by the artist who will never bloom at all.
Prodigies are easy. They advertise their genius from the get-go. Late bloomers are hard. They require forebearance and blind faith.
. . .
Whenever we find a late bloomer, we can’t but wonder, how many others like him or her we have thwarted because we prematurely judged their talents? [Not everyone’s talents are so quickly recognized.] If you are the type of creative mind that starts without a plan and has to experiment and learn by doing, you need someone to see you through the long and difficult time it takes to see your art reach its true level. [We need ‘guardians’, ‘protectors’, ‘coaches’, someone to believe in us. For the late bloomer,] his or her success is highly contingent on the efforts of others.
. . .
Late bloomer’s stories are invariably, “love stories”. And this may be why we have such difficulty with them. We like to think that mundane matters like loyalty, steadfastness, and the willingness to [keep supporting] what looks like ‘failure’ have nothing to do with something as rareified as genius, but sometimes genius is anything but rareified. Sometimes it’s just a thing that emerges after 20 years of working at your kitchen table.
Can you see why this stirred me so much? I mean… how many have WE thwarted?.. given up on?… abandoned hope that things will never change… and in our own personal journey, how many times have we thwarted ourselves?… sold ourselves short… given up on our dreams?
And, did you catch the crux?… that we need “someone to see you through…“. In each story, the book’s author describes the connecting-circle of people in the lives of not-yet-great people made the difference between obscurity and greatness, between boredom and engagement, between drudgery and creativity, between death and life. Do you see it? — Our story requires the interaction… or better yet, the intervention… of others and of God. We all need this. And, better still, we can all BE this to another.
Who are you believing in? When all seems like ‘failure’, who are you supporting? To whom are you a ‘guardian’, ‘protector’, ‘coach’, a believer in?
Or, maybe you’ve given up on yourself. Don’t. Don’t give in to the belief that this is as good as it gets. You may be just a season away from blooming. Do something… agree to just take one more step closer.
Learning to believe it’s never too late to bloom!
** A reference to the creative genius of Paul Cezanne, a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century