Talent is always conscious of its own abundance, and does not object to sharing.

~Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn (known for raising awareness of the gulag and the Soviet Union’s forced labor camp system; winner of 1970 Nobel Peace Prize)

Just today, I came across a story about a woman named Vivian Maier. To all appearances, she lived simply. Although born in 1926 in the US, she spent most of her youth in France, moving back to the US in 1951. From then until her death in 2009, Vivian worked as a nanny.

Images via VivianMaier.com

Images via VivianMaier.com

The children whom she took care of helped take care of Vivian in her later years; 2 years prior her death, the contents of a storage room of hers was put up for auction due to delinquency in payment.

In 2007, a man by the name of John Maloof on a whim purchased the contents of some of these boxes–hundreds and hundreds of negatives. It turns out that Miss Maier was an exceptional street photographer, adept at capturing emotions and events on the streets of Chicago (and elsewhere).

Upon discovery of these remarkable photos, Maloof not only printed and  exhibited her work, he created a documentary called “Finding Vivian Maier“. The website dedicated to her work show amazing clarity and depth of feeling in her photos.

To all who knew Vivian, this came as a complete surprise. As a private woman, her friends and acquaintances had no idea of this hidden talent. They remark that Vivian would not be happy with having her work exhibited throughout the world, that she was quite reserved in her life.

Having just barely delved into her work but being taken aback with the issues she clearly saw before her (“Blacks” amongst “Whites” in the 1950s and 60s, love in poverty, hunger, fear, pain), I began to wonder how many of us have talent that we are not willing to share?

With social media thrusting “art” in our face every day (really I’m referring to people who share entirely too much information about their lives), who can say the talents that perhaps would benefit others but don’t come to light?

Perhaps those who are introverted, socially awkward, tentative are what immediately come to mind when I think of not sharing. However, there’s part of one’s innermost soul almost that is exposed when one shares talent. When talent is in the form of a star quarterback who desperately wants to win and then fails at an important game or in writing or crafting or some type of art, that talent is exposed when one shares.

If we don’t share our talents, no one gains though. Vivian Maier’s not sharing her work is understandable, to me at least. When others can benefit from your talents, is it a duty to share?

I don’t know the answer.