The Other You

by George Plimpton

Everyone must wonder wistfully if there isn’t something other than what they actually practice in their lives at which they would be incredibly adept if they could only find out what it was – that a paintbrush worked across a canvas for the first time would indicate an amazing talent. Or that one would rise from a minor position at the executive board meeting table and address the CEOs with a proposal so illuminating that around the rim of the mahogany table the officers of the company would rise and applaud. If an idiot savant could sit down at a piano and suddenly bat out a Chopin etude, wasn’t the same sort of potential locked up somewhere in all of us? I have always wondered (less so, I must admit, as the years have gone by) if there wasn’t some extraordinary athletic skill lurking within my body of which I was not aware – as if by chance on some athletic field I had picked up a javelin and thrown it, just to try, and through some perfect and startling alchemic convulsion of muscles the thing had sailed an eighth of a mile and stuck quivering in the earth. Astonished observers would ask to see it done again. Why not?


George Plimpton, the former Editor-in-Chief of The Paris Review, helped subdue Sirhan Sirhan after the assassination of Robert Kennedy. His six sentences are taken from The X Factor: A Quest for Excellence. Plimpton died at the age of 76 on September 25th, 2003.

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