This I Believe

David - Chesapeake, Virginia
Entered on January 24, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I Believe in Dabbling

I admire greatly the rarified abilities of world-renowned violinists or the skills of finely honed athletes. Some artists, with years of sacrifice under girding their success, mount the world stage to justified acclaim and fame and fortune.

I don’t belong in this caste of saints. I’m a dabbler. I believe in dabbling. Dabbling is the fine art of sampling life in sips and occasional quick gulps and then moving on rapidly to other exotic fares. Dabblers don’t linger long at any oasis. We are cavalier dilettantes who find immense pleasure from drinking shallow draughts from deep goblets.

Just this week I decided to learn the guitar. I pulled my old electric Hamer out of the closet and stared at its sensuous neck and curved hips. I got out a dusty book on playing the blues and started strumming. After a few faltering chords and twangy scales I was hooked. I decided to master the guitar and took the dilettante’s pledge: I pledge to learn every chord and scale in the next few days and to record an original song by Saturday.

I gently and with great fondness placed my new love on the den floor and turned briefly to the Internet for resources. In the search I stumbled accidentally on a great Spanish course. I felt a thrill tumble down my spine. Spanish! Why with Spanish I could travel to Barcelona and visit the Olympic sites of yesteryear and converse with a native family at their humble dining room table (where of course I could play something on my guitar).

I took the dabbler’s pledge. I pledge to be fluent in three weeks and to look for a cheap ticket on some Spanish commuter plane flying indirectly to Barcelona.

Dabblers have no limitations. I believe this is important to the human spirit. We are made to dabble. Few can master the intricacies of calculus, the effective techniques of sheep shearing or the mystical moves of the chess master. But anyone can dabble. Dabbling is the poor man’s philosophy. It is an inalienable right of every dreamer. It is apolitical, free from stock market losses and oblivious to drought.

Dabbling opens the pores of the soul and imbues the adventurer with down right joy. Dabblers are never envious of others. Dabblers believe in endless horizons and unlimited possibilities.

Why just last week I decided to become a wedding photographer. My mind trembled with the possibilities. Elegantly gowned brides would float down candled sanctuary aisles, eyes bright with romance, and I would be there in the midst of the magic capturing it all. Of course I took the pledge and immediately signed up for the NYC Photography Course.

Now, I can hear the skeptics. You’re wagging your head and saying quietly, “What a waste. He’ll never be good at anything.”

But that’s the beautiful thing about dabblers. We don’t need applause. We don’t seek the Oscar. We just want to sample the nectar from as many flowers as possible.

Wait. That’s an idea. I’ve got a small garden in my back yard. I could plant flowers and learn all their names—in Spanish.