It’s not enough to be the “pretty bird.”

A friend sent me this story. Once upon a time a man walked into a pet store to buy a bird. There was a beautiful Cockatoo with lovely plumage, singing his head off. Up and down the scales, the bird’s songs were awe-inspiring. In the next cage was a scrawny, dirty-brown bird with feathers falling out. He was hanging on his perch by one leg. The man told the shop owner, “I want that beautiful bird. His singing is just great, I love it.”

The pet shop clerk said, “Fine, but you’d better take the other one, too.”

The man was perplexed. “Why should I do that? Look at him, he’s ugly and shabby. He’s a disgrace. I want the one that sings so lovely. Why on earth would I take the other one, too?””

The clerk smiled and said, “He’s the composer.”

There’s a moral to this story. God gives everyone a talent. Sometimes he gives a person more than one talent. Those are the lucky ones. But a talent not used, or not improved on by dedicated work, is a talent wasted. You need to acknowledge the talent God gave you, and work to develop it to its fullest.

When I tell people I went to college to be music major, they look confused. But it’s the truth. I loved music then; I love it now. I could play anything that was written on the music sheet. But God taught me a valuable life lesson. I played in all the bands and orchestras, and I played in some “pick-up” groups. There was a fellow I often played with in those small groups, who couldn’t read a note of music. I was playing a tenor saxophone and this guy played an alto sax. The tenor is a b-flat instrument; the alto is an e-flat instrument.  When we had a piece where the whole group played in unison, before we started I would transpose the score for this fellow, playing my tenor in the key of e-flat, so he could hear how it should sound. I only had to play it once, and he had it.

Normally, we would play the opening of a song in unison, and then each band member would stand up and play solo while the rest of the group played background chords. When it was my turn, I had to look down at the music stand where I had scribbled out some chords and it was a struggle for me to “ad lib” a solo. When the guy who couldn’t read music took his solo, he stood up, closed his eyes and just blew everyone away, he was so good. We could change keys or tempo while he was soloing, and it never fazed him – he just kept playing as if God was controlling his flying fingers.

Finally, I had to accept that no matter how hard I tried, I just did not have the God-given talent to be a fine musician. But I could figure out calculus and work out problems in physics, so I changed my direction to the study of the “atmospheric sciences.” I teamed that with the gift of gab I had, and turned it into a 40 year career as a TV weatherman. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret not becoming a talented musician. I learned to love forecasting the weather. To you youngsters, or oldsters who want to live long and prosper, find the talent God gave you, and then give it dedicated practice and never stop learning. You may be able to sing, but that’s a wasted talent – if you don’t have a good composer to learn from.


About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on and available from . .
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1 Response to It’s not enough to be the “pretty bird.”

  1. Jacquelyn Rush-Kozacek says:

    John: You have just blown me away. WOW That wisdom shared with your followers is a gift you have just given everyone. Some of us never take time to appreciate the talent God has given us and others are fortunate enough to have recognized it early on and have been using it throughout our life. You have just reminded me to say “Thank You Lord” one more time for the gift He has given me.

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