It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
― William Ernest Henley, Echoes of Life and Death
It was my second year in college and the semester was coming to a close. It was a beautiful spring day in Missoula and my drama professor was giving us his final lecture as we all eyed the door hoping he would let us go early. As he lied to us and told us we were the best class and he would remember us ALL, something he said after that made us snap to attention and listen: Jeff said that as we go about our paths getting our degrees or not getting our degrees, we should work hard to become a master at something. It didn’t matter if it was drama, science, the art of French cooking or a second language; we should be a master at SOMETHING. At the time I thought it was nice advice right before I went out and enjoyed the sunshine but as I got older his words really stuck with me.
I recently started a new job and with it came a very steep learning curve. I’m learning about marketing, design and how electricity works and while I am enjoying the process, I look forward to the day when the learning curve plateaus. Now, I have only worked at my job for a month but the experience has made me pause more than once and think about the past 39 years: I have tried and enjoyed many things from belly dancing to pottery classes to knitting and I have no regrets. But looking back, I do regret not taking Jeff’s advice and mastering something. I have many creative friends who have mastered their art through practice and hard work but I am not fluent in Spanish, I still can’t knit a sock and I don’t sit down every day to write … even if what I’m writing is crap.
As a creative person, I tend to get distracted by shiny objects and new opportunities and never fully committed to mastering my art. Sure, I sit down once a week or whenever I get around to it and write a blog post, but I don’t practice my craft every day. It’s time for ME to take Jeff’s advice become a master at SOMETHING.
This weekend I scribbled some thoughts into my journal and explored the idea of why I wasn’t pursing my passions. Inertia, the daily grind and comfort were probably the biggest excuses and they weren’t very good ones.
Sure, practicing ones craft takes time away from Facebook and mind-numbing television but it’s much more rewarding. Plus, it makes all of our lives richer as I write about the learning process.
So, what about you, Gentle Reader? What’s preventing YOU from mastering Julia Child’s cookbook, mastering knitted socks or just simply mastering your own life?