Like Sundials in the Shade

The oh-so-smart Benjamin Franklin once talked about talent and untapped potential as “sundials in the shade.” What are your “sundials in the shade” and how can you help make them come out?

I’ve been giving a little bit of thought to this lately. It seems like everybody has some potential, everybody *can* do a lot of different things and maybe most even have the potential to do more, but few do. Especially where the arts are concerned. It can seem difficult, if not even impossible at times, to sort of “get it off the ground” as it were…to get the ball rolling, to get things really….moving. Once artists tend to get things going, once they hit a stride of some kind, there seems to be no trouble creating, it’s just that initial “push” to get it all started. “Sundials in the shade” indeed!

So, how do we help get over that? What can we do to make the path be more clear and to rid ourselves of obstacles. We all (collectively) face so many common obstacles too, don’t we?

It seems like a big first step is identifying what our “sundials in the shade” really are. We have to be honest with ourselves here, brutally honest. What is it we do? What are we good at? What might we be good at if given the opportunity? The world is filled with so much untapped potential yet, time and again, the world over, people tend to fall into the same ruts and groves. We need to snap out of it and think outside of the box more. We need a more “go for it!” kind of mentality, less doubt, less self-loathing, more confidence. We need better support, yes, we also need more words of kindness and empathy to move forward.

A lot of people, perhaps many too many people, are afraid of the arts. They think they will starve, they think they cannot do it, they think they don’t have talent, or they just have that mental tape recorder going around in the head that says, “No!” No, I’m not good enough, no, I’ll never be able to do that….NO, just NO! The sundial sits in the shade and re-assures himself that the sun is not coming. Nope. Cloudy day today, sorry folks! Nothing to see here, move right along! But, even an object as large as the sun can be moved, you just have to want to do it.

In the old days, people thought the sun revolved around the earth. This was just a major assumption. Everybody knew it! Sun, earth…why, of course, we are the center of the universe. Nowadays, we know better. The same theory can be applied to art and creativity. People think the world revolves around money and that they just aren’t that “gifted” to be creative….they could never make a living doing art….that art is…well, for French men who wear berets and fuss with pretty blue dabs of paint. Ha! Sundial, meet Mr. Shade.

Art is in everything you find it. It’s not reserved for the rich, the educated, heck, not even the men. You don’t even have to be French, although that does kind of help you pronounces some of the more obscure paint names. My point is that each and every one of us has an artist within and each and every one of us has the potential to make art, to be more creative, to find our own “inner sun” no matter how dimly it might shine at first.

Don’t we owe it to our art and our creativity to at least try to realize our full potentials? Or are we all destined to sit by idly, thinking we got it “made in the shade” like a sundial waiting for its first ray of sunshine to come? I’d hate to think that were the case. No, rather I prefer to think we are all but “sundials in the shade.” That we all have hidden potential, waiting to be unlocked. That we can all make it if only we were to try.

“Sundials in the shade…” it’s an interesting thought for today.

Until next time…


  1. Great Grandma Lin
    February 22, 2013 / 12:03 am

    I'm writing books on that subject…find your voice!

  2. Carol
    March 1, 2013 / 3:01 am

    Reach your true potential, old Ben was right…it's a good idea.

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