The shift from oppressive hot summer days towards milder, cooler days of mid September has worked wonders for my attitude and moods. The mind has conjured up urges to do enjoyable activities again. I want to finish some long-neglected yard repairs. I need to begin working out more seriously. There are some small house painting tasks to finish. I have the urge to finally explore the features of a Sony camera I bought used from a pawn shop a few years ago. There are some day trips to take. All of these seem to be on a similar plane of importance in my mind. As of this moment, my energy seems a bit scattered.
I’ve been somewhat of a jack of all trades and master of none most of my life. Sometimes I’m afraid this tendency could cross the threshold into dilettantism. I dislike the shift in the social meaning of being a dilettante. During the 1700s the label described a person who was a lover of the arts. However, as the industrial age picked up steam, specialists and professionals used the word in an insulting manner. The word is now used to accuse someone of having only superficial interests. I’ve never been accused of being a dilettante even though I may seem to come off as a dabbler.
Friends have said that they see me as someone who is wildly curious about many things. One day I may ponder the sky and wonder about the workings of clouds. By that evening, I want to investigate the lives of jumping spiders. Is this dilettantism? A second cousin once told me that my mind is occasionally scattered; so I’ll go with that for now.
The underlying feeling seems to be that I love being alive and that there are zillions of things about society, the Earth, and the Universe that I want to learn about before I die. Instead of dilettantism, I prefer to believe in joie de vivre or enjoyment of everything. I hope this is true. In my opinion, life is too short to be obsessed with just one or two aspects of life. I’ve never had the mind of a specialist. Even my broadcast career encompassed many skillsets and covered a wide range of topics. Boring days at work were far and few between.
I’ve known a few other folks like me. We tend towards impulsiveness bordering on impatience. We don’t always consider all of the consequences of our decisions. We don’t always strategize effectively. We take longer than we should to focus our energies to implement our plans. We do not trouble ourselves about these traits; we simply enjoy our journeys.
Thankfully, when we do take up a new pursuit, we tend to invest a great deal of interest and effort towards mastering it. Although we may never reach professional levels of skill, we try to learn and practice more than enough in order to tackle difficult scenarios.
For instance, I want to learn more about the features of the old Sony camera. Even though it’s not a sophisticated, precision camera, it is a modern tool that I can use to explore creative moments and situations. There is a controllable aspect beyond simply using the camera in automatic mode. This is an area that requires more thoughtful concentration, learning and practice than I have used regarding photography in the past.
This “scattered” mindset has served me well and has not been a major hindrance towards living a joyful life. Thankfully, I’m becoming better at prioritizing. It’s just that there is so much I want to do within the limited parameters of this human life.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes author and public speaker, Timo Kiander. “While the people with fixed mindsets let their intelligence and talent define them, the growth mindset oriented people know that with hard work and practice, they can be good at anything.”