My parents, like so many, wanted to give me the best start they could.  In their opinion, and I don’t disagree, that meant education.  Simply getting through school was not enough.  There were trips to museums of history and science as well as art.  Symphony and dance concerts, poetry and performance art.  As graphic designer and artist, my dad had a lot of art books, but he also had a subscription to Heavy Metal magazine and a fair collection of Crumb’s comics.  Classical music appreciation record sets nestled with Frank Zappa, the Beach Boys and Queen in the stereo cabinet.   Piano lessons, a few years of ballet, a few years of modern dance, gymnastics class and tennis lessons, summer enrichment classes of all kinds.  Their idea was to expose me to a variety of things so that I would have an idea of what I wanted to pursue more fully, and it is a great idea.  The problem was, there really wasn’t anything I didn’t like, and nothing I was so bad at that I would write it off entirely.  The more I discovered, the more I dabbled.

In high school, we really start comparing ourselves to our peers, and that’s when I really noticed the difference.  I had some friends who were geniuses, and I was smart enough to recognize the difference between my “a bit above average” thinking and theirs, I could follow along some of their ideas and still see where they were going even when I couldn’t keep up.  Some of my friends were amazing artists, drawing a realistic cityscape or skyline as a doodle in the bottom margin of a french test.  I have enough training to recognize many of the techniques and the skill involved, but I can’t do it myself.  Computer programmers, linguists, athletes, performers and writers, I have known a number of exceptionally talented people.

Even my younger brother, Sean, of whom I have been jealous for years.  It isn’t that I envy his musical talent, but that he has a talent he is in love with.  Our parents exposed him to the same variety, but music stuck for him.  He is a fine musician and he has a passion for it.  I can not do what Sean does.  I can not play any of the several instruments he plays, I can not compose music, I can sing over a fair range, but I have not mastered the breath control needed for some of the things he can do.  What I can do, is recognize his abilities and appreciate them.

I am a  dilletante and I know it.  Jack of all trades and master of none, but I know enough to recognize the difference between acceptable and outstanding.  I love to be around those incredibly talented folks, not to boast about how great my friends are, as if that somehow could rub off on to me, or to live vicariously through their achievements.  I enjoy seeing people excel at something they were meant to do.  Like watching a cheetah run, or a falcon hunt, there is pleasure in seeing someone fulfilling their own purpose.

I have managed to learn enough that I have a firm understanding of how little I know.  In my time, I have collected a long list of people, with a wide range of skills, from blacksmithing to spun sugar sculpting and from capturing the special spark of who someone is on film to an unprecedented ability to bring comfort to the bereaved.  In several instances, I am not even particularly close to these people, but I do appreciate what they can do and when the opportunity presents itself, I do my best to put those talents in front of others who can appreciate them.  After all, doesn’t everybody like to have their collection admired?

All rights reserved.  This blog and all it’s contents is the original creation of Jennifer Maher, the author / publisher.  No part of the contents may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the author / publisher.


~ by friendlycurmudgeon on October 25, 2009.

One Response to “Collectables”

  1. And you were born to write. I’m also a dilletante. 🙂

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