Words of wisdom from a great thinker…
Wisdom is knowing what to do next, skill is knowing how to do it, and virtue is doing it. – David Starr Jordan –
Throughout my life I struggled with the fact that I was curious about everything, had several talents, couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to focus on as a career (consequently had several throughout the years), learned something about everything and became a “Jack of All Trades” – instead of focusing on one thing and becoming really super good at it.
In the past two years however, I learned to make peace with this “curse”. I finally understood that it was a good thing to have many interests and talents if one could just manage to “tame the beast” somehow. For me it was learning to have more discipline which would help me getting through those times when it gets a little harder for a while, just before you go to the next level – if you know what I mean.
I discovered art for myself and found that it seems to be a bottomless well of inspiration on so many levels that it never gets boring. It seems to combine so many areas of expertise and life. There is always something new to learn – mentally, philosophically, historically, even physically (when learning a new skill or technique using my hands). Art involves your intellect and all the senses and is present always and everywhere.
I was happy to find the following blog post and a person who seemed to have “suffered” from the same malaise throughout the past and learned to embrace it. The following is from a blog written by Anthony Mazzocchi. His blog is called You Only Do This Once, Keeping the Learning Curve Alive. For the full length post go here: http://weonlydothisonce.com/2012/11/03/embracing-a-renaissance-lifestyle-part-1/
Here are some bits and pieces, whenever you see this … I edited content. Please go and read the whole post on Tony’s blog, see above link. Here we go:
I found that a Renaissance person excels in a wide range of subjects. While this title can mean a “jack of all trades”, this derisive term in our modern world implies a master of none; the traditional Renaissance person mastered one and often more subjects while being competent in many others.
Some people now will argue that hundreds of years ago, when the term first came about, the amount of human knowledge was rather small and thus a person could master many fields of knowledge. I believe a modern Renaissance person doesn’t necessarily need to “master” all subjects, but in our age of “specialization” (more on that later), we can strive to be very competent in a range of important subjects.
Don’t you sometimes feel that many of us know something about a very limited number of things in our culture … such as our job training …
Which skills should we focus on in life? I learned that Renaissance men in the 17th century strove to do a few things:
-defend themselves with a variety of weapons
-immerse themselves in the arts (instruments and painting)
-debate politics and philosophy
-advance knowledge and the sciences
-practice as an author and poet
21st Century Goals for our Renaissance person lifestyle should be:
- Never Stop Learning. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new or hone an existing skill set. Don’t let a day pass without learning something new.
- Learn An Art. Art comes in many forms; Music, painting, writing, poetry. Learn to express yourself through an artistic medium somehow.
- Learn To Build Things. Learn how things are constructed and how things work mechanically. If something breaks, try to fix it yourself. Learn how to use a hammer, drill, and screwdriver. Build your own bench..start there.
- Reach High Levels of Physical Ability. Renaissance men of old were not only great minds, but great bodies as well. You can simply get out and keep your body in relatively good shape. How you do that is completely up to you. Hit the gym on a somewhat regular basis. Take up hiking or climbing …
- Learn To Speak Really Well. While you are at it, learn to speak another language, too. Learn to be a great communicator and orator. This is a skill that is quickly becoming extinct. Learn how to be persuasive and humorous with language. Learn to write in complete, grammatically correct sentences. Also, learn to spell, or at least become proficient with the spell-check. You might have the most interesting and profound things to say, but if they are misspelled or written like a grade-schooler, you will not be taken seriously …
- Read. Just read. Read everything. Keep reading. Feed your mind.
- Learn About The World. Not just geography. Learn about the rest of the people in the world. Learn about the religions and cultural practices in countries other than your own. While you’re at it, learn about your own country and the religions and cultural practices in it. Learn to be respectful of and even admire the differences between yourself and the rest of the world.
- Learn History. Learn it in a different way than you were taught in school. Try Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. One of the more important books ever written.
- Learn About Politics. Learn about the different political systems. Read some information written by the founders of other systems as well as your own. If you think you live within the greatest political system ever created, and that there will never be a better one, you are very likely not thinking broadly enough.
- Learn To Appreciate Fine Things. Fine art, fine food, great literature, superb athleticism, a brilliant equation are all examples toward which the renaissance man endeavors. How will you know how to be great without knowing and appreciating what greatness is? Learn and appreciate all things excellent, and strive to achieve excellence yourself.
I really like this list and promised myself to strive being a Renaissance Person. I particularly like the last two sentences: “How will you know how to be great without knowing and appreciating what greatness is? Learn and appreciate all things excellent, and strive to achieve excellence yourself.”
Since I’ve been studying art I had a few humbling moments that taught me what greatness was. For a moment or two it had a discouraging effect on me. I felt, I’d never be able to be that good so why keep trying. But that’s not the lesson to be learned here, is it. Thankfully I recovered and – fingers crossed – I am still at it 🙂
LEARN AND APPRECIATE ALL THINGS EXCELLENT, AND STRIVE TO ACHIEVE EXCELLENCE YOURSELF. NEVER GIVE UP. DISCOVER & CREATE.
“The hard must become habit. The habit must become easy. The easy must become beautiful.” – Doug Henning –
I really like this quote. The process he describes is so essential to creating anything beautiful in your life as in art. It’s practice practice practice, then it becomes habit and hopefully one day you create something beautiful.
For more on this subject I recommend reading this blog by Leo Babauta. Enjoy!