Friday, June 24, 2005

Master of Everything?

One of my personal blocks to achieving simplicity is simply the fact I have way too many interests. Anyone who knows me well knows I have too much I want to learn. My amazing parents instilled in me a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world. I also inherited their pride in a sense of accomplishment and work well done. I don't think I have been very effective in meshing those two ideas into a workable lifestyle.

There are some things I just want to know about because they fascinate me. These involve just facts, and they would require a certain amount of time to research and read about. Some questions, I know, I've bothered various family members with but still can't understand:
How do planes get up in the air and stay up? How do telephones work? How do microchips work? How can Google take one second to research a million sites? How can an ink cartridge in a printer spit out such precise patterns? How can people build such tall buildings? Why can't we predict earthquakes? How do they decaffeinate coffee and tea? How can you freeze human embryos without damaging them? How can telescopes see far into the galaxy? How does an electron microscope work? How do we know what an atom consists of? What is electricity?
How do they get glue in tubes? How do cameras work? How do headache medicines know it's your head that is hurting and not your foot?

Then there are other things I want to learn that are skills. I would like to be able to play the violin, the cello, and a wind instrument. I would like to be able to smock and to knit. I want to be able to do incredibly realistic-looking photo manipulation. I would love to learn to make wood furniture. I wish I could professionally frame pictures, refinish floors, and install carpet. I wish I could garden like my sister can. These too would require inordinate amounts of time to learn - just the basics. What time would I need to master them? Some people practice all their lives to perfect these skills!

The problem essentially comes down to one question. I have asked myself this question for years and cannot come up with a satisfactory answer. Would I rather be brilliantly proficient at one or two things in life, or would I rather be moderately competent in lots of things? Because it doesn't look like I can do everything wonderfully. Such a dilemma for a perfectionist! Such a conundrum for one who is determined to simplify.

Just think - If I concentrated only on quilting and let everything else go - what I could accomplish! The beauty I could create! The quantity of quilts I could make! The creativity I could release! I would be a master at quilting - but I would miss cross-stitching, singing, playing the piano, playing the harp, working with photography, making my own greeting cards, writing poems...

Sometimes I feel that I have made the decision to not make the decision - and that means I default to being moderately competent in lots of things. At least that's where I am now.

And I still don't understand how I can pick up a telephone in Maine and talk to my mother in Memphis. It's just too weird.

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