Master of none

“If you could choose to be a master (or mistress) of any skill in the world, which skill would you pick?”

Seems a bit of a reach for someone my age. By now you will have tried most of the things that interest you, and done well at them or failed (like judo). You must necessarily limit your list to those things that can be accomplished by diligence, and not those that depend on luck, physical prowess, family fortune, or breeding. Clearly I won’t be learning to drive a Formula 1 car, planning a cotillion, or making derivative trades with other people’s money.

Some skills are simply distasteful, or not to be chosen by those with weak stomachs. Some things, even if it’s an art, you still really don’t want to know. Is bamboozling wide-eyed county fair attendees considered a skill? Is selling snake oil (or cars, or phones)? Extracting cash from alumni? Managing a dungeon? Yes to all, but I have no interest in learning them.

No, I think I would pick something more prosaic, something that I admired but never felt I had the time for. And, even though this is a pie-in-the-sky kind of question, I would still pick something that seemed doable.

If I could? I would draw. Cartoons, manga, the daily strips, illustrations, line art, realistic renderings, court reporting, whatever. I like all of it. To my eye, a good drawing is often better than a photograph. The contrast and focus are entirely in the artist’s eye, in ways that a camera could never do.

I actually can draw, up to a point. Utilitarian sketches meant to convey information, dimensions, or corrections are part and parcel of my work. But I don’t have the vision, the editing, or the patience that a real artist has. Hats off to those early animators, those tabloid and cheesecake scribes of the mid-century, guys who drew because it was cheaper and more portable than photography, faster than letterpress, or easier to recognize than Picasso…

Check these guys out :

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2 Responses to Master of none

  1. This is interesting, as the other night I was watching a symphony orchestra in performance and wished I had some talent with the cello, violin, or another instrument (but not with a tuba or bassoon!). I’d be happy if I at least had a choir-level voice, though I can’t see myself as a soprano. I’ve always had a tenor (I guess they call it alto in women) voice, which was made worse by smoking a pack a day in my youth.

    Someone told me once that it’s never too late to start learning how to play an instrument, but I watched my three kids struggle through piano, Suzuki violin, then various other instruments. I know it requires a lot of practice and a willingness to make a lot of mistakes before you sound decent. I also now have arthritis in the hands, something none of my kids had to deal with. (They complained a lot about sore hands while practicing, but unlike them my sore hands never go away.)

    • Doug says:

      Learning an instrument is really good for you. Fires up new pathways in your brain or something… I’ve spent the past six months or so learning piano, and I can tell you that it isn’t easy, but neither was it as hard as I thought it was going to be. So far my natural stubbornness has been an asset. Also, adults tend to be more diligent at practice. It might even help that arthritis. While stringed instruments like violin are hard on hands, I hear that tuba is not!

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