Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

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Jack of All Trades

Written 7 May

Something I’ve heard about people who go into retirement, at least the ones that seem to be doing it right, is that they end up with fairly packed schedules. They make new friends, they pick up hobbies, they fill their days. And they look back after a month or two and wonder, “How did I ever have time for a job?”

I’m feeling a little like that in a way. I certainly felt like that after my job went away last year. Suddenly I had a vacation several months long before I even boarded a plane to go on holiday. And I filled my time. Looking back I know what I filled it with. Consolidating all of my personal belongings, selling/sorting/filing/trashing/storing all of it, saying goodbye to friends and family, and generally accounting for my life – at least the physical evidences of it – up to this point. I was busy for sure. And I wondered how I had managed to find time to work.

Now I’m working a job again. This is my second full week. It takes up 11 hours a day, after which I’m usually too tired to write well or think or really do much beyond respond to emails, get lost in twitter and facebook, and watch television. I get why I don’t quite have the time or energy now.

But even leading up to this I have been traveling around Australia for five months. I haven’t been working. I haven’t been wall to wall booked with things. I can think about what took my time on any given day, and it may be anything from a range of activities that could be critical, useful, fanciful, fun, or just plain stupid timewasters.

But I look at all the things I want to accomplish. And not in that pipe-dream sense where someone might say that they want to learn guitar or a foreign language or a martial art. Not in that far-off, five-year-plan sense of getting a new degree or getting a job in such-and-such industry. But in the immediate sense of hobbies – things I want to get better at, that I enjoy doing, and that I could see myself doing more.

Photography. Writing. Keeping up with new music. Socializing. Meeting people. Seeing the sights. Learning ukulele. Keeping my body in shape. Learning to cook a wider range of things. Learning to cook well.

There are so many things I want to do. Things that I enjoy doing. And when I dive into any one of them, I do enjoy it. There have been days when I just head out with my camera and spend hours getting lost in lining up shots. There are meals where I aim big and put together a great recipe, learning new tricks in the kitchen. There have even been times where I sat down with the uke and practiced strumming technique and pace for an hour.

But I am working on becoming a jack of all trades, master of none. To get better at writing I need to do it every day, and I need to consciously analyze writing I like and figure out how to find my voice. To get better at photography I need to not just take pictures, but to sort them, to analyze them, to see what works and what doesn’t, to find artists I like and try to figure out how they make something that resonates with me. To learn to play the ukulele, I need to practice far more frequently than Amanda Palmer’s “Ukulele Anthem” implies. To keep up with music… I don’t think there are enough hours in the day. Even people who do this professionally still have to have genre specializations to make the task manageable.

I don’t know how to find the time to do everything I want. And I don’t know how to prioritize some skills and hobbies over others. And so I keep bouncing between them all, not taking the time and diving in fully to figure out how to master one of them. I’m not sure if this is the way I want to keep moving along. Then again, I’m not sure exactly what I would want to change. It makes it hard to even start figuring out how to change it.

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This entry was posted on June 9, 2012 by in Australia, Self Analysis, South Australia (Adelaide).

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