Friday, August 15, 2014

How Easy Is It To Be A Renaissance Man?

Recently, I was called a "Renaissance Man" by somebody at work. During the slower periods, all I can think about these days is the next semester of school. It's so close I can almost taste it! In spite of my excitement, almost all I can seem to talk about in my non-student life is either Doctor Who or what I've done and will do in school. On top of that -- regardless of how inefficiently I actually utilize the time available to me -- I cannot stand to waste a single skill in life. I gather them up through short intro courses, during procrastination hours, in my free summers, etc., and then I try my best to practice and improve in each area. Admittedly, most of my time is spent wishing that I could practice more and so I simply have a lot of half-assed hobbies. But I do like to think that I have the potential to learn anything at all, I am just pressed for time. Yes, I do waste quite a bit of the time I do have in the first place. Basically, I'm just very jealous of Rachel Weisz's character in The Brothers Bloom (Definitely look it up if you haven't yet seen it). Anyway, at some point, I must have reached critical levels of hobby-brandishing, because a woman I work with said (without sarcasm, mind you) "Geez! Is there anything you don't do? You're like a Renaissance Man!" Of course I had a split second of pride after that one. But then it got me thinking about something I often ponder: Is it at all admirable to simply enjoy doing lots of random things? In other words, should one be proud that they enjoy a scattered array of hobbies and activities? I do so fully believe in the pursuit of knowledge for the sake of it, but because I am extremely far from disciplined, I have to operate under the belief that my knowledge will be of use to me someday. Sometimes it's in the sense Patton Oswalt or other modern nerds would, in that after the apocalypse, I'll need to know how to blah blah in order to get blah or survive the blahs. Other times, I feel I can utilize the skill for financial gain. Then still other times, I use the skill to improve different sectors of my brain or thought process, i.e. critical thinking, problem-solving, etc. And still other times, I work with the more abstract concept that my learning will be improving me in some way or another. In short, my pursuits are not noble, nor are they selfless in any way. I don't brag about them, but I do like to talk about what I enjoy. Another question that I feel relates to this, though, is one regarding the ease with which we acquire abilities these days. Leonardo Da Vinci was no doubt an amazing person, but -- in doing what he seemed to enjoy doing -- was he noble or should he be placed on any pedestal other than one of intellectual greatness? Possibly discipline and perseverance since it would have been much more difficult for him to obtain the requisite knowledge to inform his further contemplations. But nowadays, I can watch a video on how to do almost anything. I can read countless articles on the subject and I can look up step-by-step tutorials. Honestly, maybe it's all akin to going to the gym. Improvement and achievement are at the heart of why I like to learn, along with fairly vain and slightly self-centered desires to look good, in a sense. On rare occasions, I will work with the thought that acumen improvement is better for society as a whole. And I do challenge myself quite often under the influence of all the aforementioned learning concepts. I guess, in the end, I just wanted to put this out there away from my mind and if I get a comment on it, that's a bonus.

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