December 1, 2007 by Allen George
On Being A Dilettante
At times a trenchant voice interrupts my thoughts, asking me questions I’d rather not answer.
“Are you…do you think you’re a dilettante?”
I pretend deafness, hoping guiltily that racing thoughts from immediate projects and mechanically noted action items will drown it out.
“Don’t you ever wonder if you’re simply playing at it?”
No such luck today.
Its purpose achieved, the voice recedes, and I repeat its question, examining it the way you would an unexpected scar. “I guess so,” I respond, shifting – and it’s suddenly very hot.
You know, I never wanted to be one – a dilettante, that is – it’s just that I convinced myself that I had a “limited amount of time,” and, “only so much I wanted to do in it.” Prerequisite to getting away without expectations, I suppose. With no real understanding of where you are, where you’re going, or how you’re getting there, you simply…dabble in the purgatory of mediocrity, expressing secret awe at those who pass you. It’s quite comfortable really; with no markers there are no expectations, no disappointments – and no growth either.
Now, getting out isn’t difficult. Why, it’s a simple matter of goals, hard work and a bit of ego bruising – the stuff we’ve gone through since childhood. It’s just…it’s just that it can sometimes be tiring, and you’ve to ask yourself if you’re really ready for all that’s concomitant with expectations: the realization that you’re just not that good, that you’ve a hundred tedious little steps ahead, that failure’s always round the corner. No…it’s not fun, but if it’s important to you, if you truly care about it, there’s no satisfaction in mediocrity; the comfort of coasting is illusive – it’s quickly replaced by a chafing, and a disgust at your present state.
At times, all you want is something to play at. Pick it up, do well enough at it, don’t care about it – occupy the mind. Just be careful though, and keep your distance, for the moment it concerns you, the moment you lose that childlike, meandering sense of play, it’s lost to you. Human nature takes over – and it’s lost to you.