I recently got back from a trip back home, and I was lucky enough to run into an old friend. I’d been worried that he was dodging my calls and avoiding me, but it turned out it was all a wacky misunderstanding such as two socially inept blokes are prone to have.
I can only have spent a couple of hours in his company, but those two hours meant a lot. Sometimes, we get too focused on the direction our lives are going in. We think that everything is set, that our talents and skill-sets and characters are as rigid and inflexible as a job application sheet tells us they are.
With my old friend, though, and the amazing things he’d done with his year (including building his own guitar, setting himself up as a professional guitar teacher, and starting an amazing band), I realised that there are always more options open to you.
It wasn’t just the skills he displayed that inspired me, though. It was the faith he had that if I wanted to, I could veer from the path I was on and be teaching bass guitar within the year.
It became increasingly difficult to argue with his relentless logic, and although I’m not about to drop everything I’m doing and sell my soul at the crossroads, it was a revelation to think suddenly, after years of trying to find one thing that I could do well, hey, if I put the time in, I could do anything.
Well, almost anything.
Anything that doesn’t involve heavy lifting, or a steady hand, or a keen eye, or a head for complex mathematics, or science, or specific types of writing that I’ve not done before, or instruments more difficult than an elastic band stapled to a shoebox.
The basic point is sound, though.
Everyone I know has so much potential, it seems like a waste to focus on just one thing, to say “this is their one skill, and this is all they are”.
Whether they’re a novelist who thinks their wonderful poetry isn’t good enough to make them a poet, or a skilled craftsman who thinks they could never work freelance with their programming skills, or a doctor who wouldn’t dream of charging for their photos, I have many friends and relatives who are immensely talented and don’t, or won’t, even realise it.
I don’t want to hector anyone from the safety of my blog, though, so I won’t do that. Sometimes it’s just nice to keep something that’s not to impress others, something that’s just for you, sometimes one overwhelming interest takes up all your time — there’s all sorts of reasons to keep your other talents on the down-low.
So instead, I’ll just use this post to celebrate the hobbies, the side-projects, the skills that we all have that we think could never be “proper talents”, not like those people in the books and at the award ceremonies, not like those people who charge money for their services.
Because many of the amateurs and part-time somethings I know and love are at least as good as most professionals, or could definitely reach that standard if they focused on their hobby, and it’s important to give these things the respect that they deserve.
May or may not have been a little drunk as I wrote this post. Image by Bryan Bennett, who is not the doctor I was talking about.
Technically difficult. I guess.