in my family, less than an "A" on the report card was failure. I graduated 5th in my large high school class and thought myself a failure. In our entertainment-driven culture, we celebrate the Big Stars, forget the Has-Beens, and pity the Wanna-bees.
I made a B+ in my first college drawing class. Therefore, I believed I was a no-talent failure. So, I majored in art history instead of studio art, as I had planned.
About 5 years later, I returned to school and earned that BFA in Studio Art. "So there!" I could tell my past self.
Twenty five years later, am I famous? No. Does it matter? Not at all. Will I achieve the stature of a Leonardo, a Michelangelo, a Raphael? Extreeeeeeeemely doubtful. Will I ever even be a big fish in a small pond? Does it matter? What matters is to keep at it, despite the lack of glory, fortune and fame.
Perfectionists get very little done, you know. Sometimes a "good enough" job really is good enough, if you put your heart and soul into it. I give you a Leonardo. And, one of my small paintings. His is magnificent. And mine? Well, it's good enough.
And, here is Stephen Spenders poem, in its entirety:
I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul's history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms. What is precious is never to forget
The delight of the blood drawn from ancient springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth;
Never to deny its pleasure in the simple morning light,
Nor its grave evening demand for love;
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog the flowering of the spirit. Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass,
And by the streamers of white cloud,
And whispers of wind in the listening sky;
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire's center.
Born of the sun, they traveled a short while towards the sun,
And left the vivid air signed with their honor.