Letter 037: Magus Fit, Non Nascitur
Now right off the bat, I have to apologize for the latin. I’ve never really been fond of people who intentionally quote things in other languages as a way to sound smarter—you know, the type who prattle on at parties, expecting you to be impressed because they turned up their nose and said raison d'être when I’m almost entirely certain their actual purpose for living is to annoy anyone within earshot.
But every now and then, there’s a phrase that sticks in the original language just a little better than it translates, especially one like this—see, this little line of Latin isn’t so much a quote as it is a spell, a creed or manifesto about the exact nature of magic. Magus Fit, Non Nascitur. A Magician is made, not born.
See, the reality is that great people are always born into greatness—in the sense that being born is a prerequisite to greatness. It’s hard to be a great warrior or a great hero or a great magician unless you’ve first met the most basic requirement of, well, being.
But far too often people get caught up in the simplest version of events. They see real talent, someone who has a knack for some difficult task, a real sense of genius that you could accurately call magic and all we can feel is awe. We see great athletes, writers, comedians, musicians, easing through intricate, impossible tasks, watch them in the peak of competition or performance, and we fall pray to the myth: that they were born for this.
No, I’m not suggesting that talent is not a thing. I think it’s quite obvious some people are better at some things than others. I have a certain propensity to reading books and writing letters, but I’m afraid I missed my window on becoming a competitive ice skater.
It’s just rather to say, in my experience, talent is far more real and far less important than most people think. Talent is the natural predisposition, but that’s all it is. It can only become someone’s purpose through work, through time, through practice. No, I’m not saying that after you read this letter you will become a basketball superstar or suddenly be able to play the piano. I'd just like to point out that the blank page has produced more writers than the hospitals. And it’s those moments with the blank page—the time and effort of practice, but also that of self doubt, the thousand little moments when each and every master said to themselves “I really don't think I was born for this." Magus fit, non nascitur—a magician is made, not born!
(And if you do become a basketball superstar after reading this letter—please remember your favorite Mentor kindly?)
May the road rise up to meet you!