End of Dabbling?

All my life I’ve been an inveterate dabbler. I’ve explained it away in many ways, from simply having wide interests to ‘oh, I was just being an unhealthy 7’, or ‘I’m just a pragmatist’. I’ve dabbled in being a good kid, a bad teenager, a drug addict, a writer, a critic, an artist, a student, a boyfriend, a partier, etc. Virtually everything I’ve done, I’ve done, shall we say, convincingly, if not in earnest. No matter what I’ve done, I’ve always kept a certain amount of reserve that was ‘my true self’ that didn’t commit to whatever it was I was doing. And so, I drifted across. I tend to lose track of friends for much the same reason: I often dabble in these friendships, and unless that person is willing to put up with a flaky me (as in, you may not hear from me for weeks, months or even years), well, they tend to get pissed off and I simply shrug and move on.

I marvel, both in awe and in contempt at those who commit whole-hog to something. The activists, starving-(or not)-artists, the go-getters, whomever. I often simply cannot grasp how they manage to dive into something so wholly without being swallowed by it. Perhaps more to the point, without succumbing (sp?) to the horrific fear of failure that must come with such drive. Of course, as I’ve grown a little older and wiser, I’ve had to recognise that not everyone in the world is ruled by their fears. Some people are essentially fearless. Ennegrammatically, they must be either angry or confused, I suppose, but that’s still not fear. I remember the first time I was high with some new friends at college (a rare slip) and we were talking about such things, and they both just stared at me as I explained the vast array of irrational fears that haunt me before I decide to do anything. They simply had no idea. They were just ‘go and do it’ people. Jeff, my partner, is definitely a go-and-do-it person, and it’s awesome to work with him and siphon off a little of that unerring, unfounded, but most importantly, supreme confidence.

These days, however, I realize that I’m travelling certain paths much more fully than ever before. In my professional life, I’m running a company with a 5-year plan. Everywhere I’ve worked before, I’ve always had one foot out the door, on to some other, bigger, better experience. I’ve worked for myself before, but always as a side-line, while I was doing other things (allowing me, not coincidentally, to dabble in both). When I think of what I’ll be doing for the next few years, I know I’ll be doing roughly what I am now. Of course, this means that I won’t finish that screenplay, write that novel, finish my PhD, etc, etc, but oddly, I’m ok with this. I’ve got lots of time still.

In my personal life, I’m married now, which really, is about as far from dabbling as you can get in a relationship. For the first time ever, I don’t have one foot out of the door in this situation either (and I never have with Leah, which is probably why I knew she is the one for me).

There’s other areas of my life that I’m still a terrific dabbler: sports, exercise, politics and activism, all of which I engage in half-assedly, but I suspect that even these might be settling down somewhat.

Of course, I’m still a terrible dabbler in music too — I’ve long since stopped playing (my own ears protested), but I’m ok with that. Music might be somewhere that it’s good to dabble in. To commit to a scene or genre or era would just be so…limiting, seeing as how much good music there is being put out right now.

All of you who are older are probably saying ‘Uh, yeah Steve. It’s called being 25 and growing up’, and you’re probably right. But it’s new to me, and so I’m thinking about it, so expect to be bored by me babbling on about it for the next little while. Because just doing something, without fearing the outcome is a really great feeling.

6 Replies to “End of Dabbling?”

  1. There’s that scene where the guy says that as he’s lived his life he’s had lots of options forking out into many different futures, and as he’s gotten older the number of forks has declined but there were still options, but now all the forks are gone and he’s one one little path and at the end of that path is his death.

    What movie was that?

  2. There’s that scene where the guy says that as he’s lived his life he’s had lots of options forking out into many different futures, and as he’s gotten older the number of forks has declined but there were still options, but now all the forks are gone and he’s one one little path and at the end of that path is his death.

    What movie was that?

  3. as a (enneagram) 9, I completely understand…a nine’s ability to see situations (and options) from all different angles tends to leave us, while excellent as mediators, etc, absolutely unable to make a personal decision to save our lives. Every decision, whether major or minor, is met internally with that same fear of failure you speak of…namely, “what if that decision is wrong? I’ve been right before, but I’ve also been wrong…what if I decide to and I go for it wholeheartedly….and I’m wrong? What then?” It’s extremely frustrating. (add to being a nine that I’m also a sagittarius, who personify the idea of “one foot in the door”….aargh.)

  4. as a (enneagram) 9, I completely understand…a nine’s ability to see situations (and options) from all different angles tends to leave us, while excellent as mediators, etc, absolutely unable to make a personal decision to save our lives. Every decision, whether major or minor, is met internally with that same fear of failure you speak of…namely, “what if that decision is wrong? I’ve been right before, but I’ve also been wrong…what if I decide to and I go for it wholeheartedly….and I’m wrong? What then?” It’s extremely frustrating. (add to being a nine that I’m also a sagittarius, who personify the idea of “one foot in the door”….aargh.)

  5. I was committed to playing guitar and doing something with that talent. I played seriously for ten years. I was in all the stage bands and such. I knew this was something I’d do for a long time. Then I moved away from home to take my first job. Everything had now shifted very much away from guitar to the computer. Learning new languages, basically trying to keep ahead of everyone else.

    A few weekends ago I was talking to my girlfriend at a party. I was trying to explain to her why I seem like a ‘music snob’ to her. I mentioned something about “because I am a musician, I think I hold higher standards about these things…” She snapped back, “Yeah, but you’re not a musician.” I was shocked and offended. Of course I was a musician. But I thought about it; she’d heard me play guitar maybe once in the eight months we’d been seeing each other. She said “In my experience, when someone is a musician or an artist, they *have* to be participating in it, because it hurts too much not to.” It was a good point, but I did still consider myself a musician.

    In the realm of computers & programming, I am very untied to any one technology. I try to tout myself as being able to work on any technology. It sucks, because there’s only a small percentage of what I’ve worked with that I actually consider myself a master of. Someone mentioned to me several years ago, “A master of everything is a master of nothing.”

    The bottom line, from what I’ve realized, is I hate competition. With music, its other musicians. With computers, its other people. Like the millions of Flash developers out there: The stuff I see them do on the net is both inspiring an infuriating.

    I guess in a nutshell, I relate.

  6. I was committed to playing guitar and doing something with that talent. I played seriously for ten years. I was in all the stage bands and such. I knew this was something I’d do for a long time. Then I moved away from home to take my first job. Everything had now shifted very much away from guitar to the computer. Learning new languages, basically trying to keep ahead of everyone else.

    A few weekends ago I was talking to my girlfriend at a party. I was trying to explain to her why I seem like a ‘music snob’ to her. I mentioned something about “because I am a musician, I think I hold higher standards about these things…” She snapped back, “Yeah, but you’re not a musician.” I was shocked and offended. Of course I was a musician. But I thought about it; she’d heard me play guitar maybe once in the eight months we’d been seeing each other. She said “In my experience, when someone is a musician or an artist, they *have* to be participating in it, because it hurts too much not to.” It was a good point, but I did still consider myself a musician.

    In the realm of computers & programming, I am very untied to any one technology. I try to tout myself as being able to work on any technology. It sucks, because there’s only a small percentage of what I’ve worked with that I actually consider myself a master of. Someone mentioned to me several years ago, “A master of everything is a master of nothing.”

    The bottom line, from what I’ve realized, is I hate competition. With music, its other musicians. With computers, its other people. Like the millions of Flash developers out there: The stuff I see them do on the net is both inspiring an infuriating.

    I guess in a nutshell, I relate.

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