This is a photo of Van Cliburn playing in Moscow in 2004. For an illuminating, delightful interview, listen to his conversation this week with Weekend Edition's Scott Simon. Amazing, to hear what genius looks like from the inside. It looks a lot like one's own life: struggle, frustration, dry spells, and the inescapable knowledge that, whatever you do, there is more to be done. And then there's the music. My mom was a pianist, and taught me. I don't play often, but I still have the instrument and the knowledge is in there like how to ride a bicycle. I'll never be a Lance Armstrong, but it is good, occasionally, to pedal around the block.
I also recommend Steve Martin's Born Standing Up. With simple and self-deprecating prose, he describes the uncertain path described by a kid who liked to do magic and would work for peanuts. And in a passage that reminds me of the classic Art and Fear, he argues that the most important part of his career was touring as an unknown, making mistakes and learning by just doing, doing, and doing again.
As Leonard Da Vinci said to a student: "Draw, Antonio, draw. Draw and do not waste time."