“Professors I respect have told me to choose between pursuing a career as an artist, musician, or author. I admit their unanimous advice is practical, but I desperately oppose such a requirement to choose a creative focus.
I fervently believe being an artist, musician and author makes sense. Yet, when I explain myself to friends, family and strangers, reactions suggest that I claim to be a vegetarian, butcher and taxidermist.
This struggle to succinctly describe my artistry has begun to define me. With a word I close this book in order to begin another: Gesamtkunstwerk.”
I wrote these words as a college student. They were believed throughout my twenties and even some of my thirties. However, at the age of thirty-three I finally agree with my professors.
The book that was to begin has not been produced. The numerous paintings and music to correspond with the words have been withheld as well. A lack of focus is my Achilles’ heel.
Diving down the Freudian hole to examine this.
My parents (mother in particular) exposed me to a variety of information and activities. In terms of sports I was playing on multiple teams every season. For instance, after school I would go to soccer practice, following this I would go to karate. During the summer I had swim team practice around 9:00 am, dive team from 10:00-11:00. That afternoon would be Isshin-ryū from 6-7:00 pm and then Kodokan Judo from 7:00-8:00. Without going into details, I played a plethora of sports between the ages of five and eighteen.
Throughout the years I accumulated a significant collection of trophies, plaques and ribbons. However, being a millennial, I am part of the participation award generation. Still, I did win MVP awards and was a team captain at times but that is not my focus here.
My social skills allowed me to make friends, but my friends depended on the sport and season. This meant a constant transition of goals and influences. Most people expected me to become familiar with their interests and I was eager to do so, but it was during college that I noticed my lack of specializing.
As an art student I noticed how everyone seemed to have one area of expertise while everything else seemed awkward for them. For instance, someone that was comfortable behind a camera was out of place at an easel. Someone that could make a beautiful painting could not produce an interesting video.
Despite being able to do most things better than most people, I was not the best in any one thing. Outside of art, the same was true with music. I was not the best guitar player around, but the best guitarist could not match my abilities at a piano or drum kit.
Even in terms of work experience I have a variety without a specialty. My skills include roof repair, industrial floor cleaning, managing pools, managing a coffee shop, managing offices.
I have constantly dealt with competing interests that seem to have little in common. Perhaps I could hold these things better in my twenties, but I am currently in my thirties.
There is no denying my need to focus. The odd thing about all of this is that the realization occurred while bothered by my hair. Having the long length does make me feel artistic and creative, but the length is incredibly annoying when working on a car. Constantly in the way, even hats become a nuisance, I just want to grab a pair of scissors and perform the obvious measure.
I must choose. As I sit at this computer there are car parts behind me. At the back of the room is an easel. Paint on a nearby palette has hardened since the last time it was used. My guitars to the side are likely out of tune. In the garage is a piano that was taken apart. I am in the middle of restoring it. I am surrounded by notes and ideas of things to say and do. These scraps have collected dust while I spend hours on social media. That of course I have time for.
There is more to say but at this point why bother. The plans have been made. It is time to choose the priority and get to work.
Here’s to the first day of 2021.