"And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless" ~ John Milton
I first read John Milton's words in high school. And ever since, these words have haunted me, echoing time and time again throughout my life, my own eyes blind to their true meaning.
Over and over and over again in this blog and in my life, I have been berating myself for hiding a talent. So many promises, so many excuses, while I felt like a coward for running away, like a traitor to everything I always wanted to be.
Long ago, when I first read Milton's poem, I was afraid to write, even then. There was no mystery to it really, as it's a rather common trap. I was afraid to try, afraid to discover I just wasn't good enough, when various people were telling me I really was quite good. It was far easier to partially succeed in a weakness than risk failing in a strength. I pursued two degrees and half a career in the process.
I can hardly write three words in this blog without stopping and judging "my talent" in some way, and yet ironically by hiding the very thing itself, it has just buried itself deeper, partly rusting from disuse, and all the more difficult to retrieve every time I seek it out. And then when I do dig it up, much of the time I drop it, afraid to expose or handle it at all.
"They also serve who only stand and wait." ~ John Milton
When I was young, I didn't understand the purpose of any kind of waiting - ambitious young people rarely do. Yet wait I did, or so it seems, half a lifetime. I found every possible reason to pursue just about everything except that thing I had buried, all the while scolding myself for standing and waiting. It seems we die a little each day when we bury the desires of our heart, yet perhaps perfect timing serves its purpose.
God is not the judge. You are not the judge. A phantom publisher is not the judge. The most relentless judge is me.
I have decided to expose the rust or the shine, whatever they may be. It's going to require a kind of discipline to make it so, to stand and not wait. It's the only way I can begin to bury the judge and not the talent, one word at a time.