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.