Jack? Master? or Nothing Much?

B the Wise One and I, his inadequate wife have been at each other’s throats. No, don’t begin thinking “oh there goes another cute couple” already. We’re quite okay otherwise, thank you very much. The problem is, he is the kind of guy who will do anything to block out all that threatens a dialogue with his passion. The current one or whichever. But passion. While I, the Inadequate One, like to say “Bring it on.” One? Two? Ten? I have numerous passions. “How can you give everything your all? There can only be one passion, anyway. Or two, perhaps”, he states with supreme (and unusual, mind you) ignorance. He finds it very difficult to believe I want to spend my time making the just right tea, paint a just OK painting, keep the house as ‘warm-looking’ as possible, remove all hair from everywhere, passably bake breads and buns and cakes, make very spicy pickles and ginger ale. Blah. He doesn’t even get time to say phew. “Wouldn’t you like to do one thing the best possible way?” he said.

And that’s what stopped me from drifting away to the cineraria I’ve been trying to sprout.

I do not know best.

Maybe that’s what makes me flit between numerous things in day, week, month, or even a year. Someone once told me a long time ago about people choosing to excel a trade or remain mediocre in it and many others. Choice of being mediocre. Who’d choose that anyway? Well, yours truly, does in fact. Though I can’t say I’ve not dreamt of (or don’t still do) being cordially invited to an Oprah Special. It would be fun and quite a treat to my existing vanity. Not that being OWN’s special guest will essentially make me the best. But her show does invite successful people, I’m told. Masters in their profession, of their difficulties and what have you. So, I do dream of doing very good at whatever I choose to pick up. But if that restricts me to just one (or two) things, I’d rather pick mediocrity. Where’s the spice tray, man?

I am straying from B and I, though. B is a dog lover. Since this post is turning out to be without a picture, I’ll showcase our two devils (and then get back to passionate entreaties in favour of mediocrity).

Here’s Bulu.

Meet Moti.

I love them too.

But I can see the Alaska cruise, as well. We’d promised each other, B and I, that we’d take this trip someday. We adopted dogs instead. And will never leave them in a kennel to explore the world. B is blissfully passionate about them. I am too, like I said. But, for the lack of a better means of differentiation, you could say I am the Passion Jack. while he is the Passion Master. He could spend hours sitting, looking at the dogs. Being with them (and me, if I’m allowed to break the reverie). And talk of Great Dane legs and Pug eyes and Bull Mastiff height. Does he come across as a dog freak? Well, he is, but not as crazy-like as it may seem. He does get up from his reverie, make coffee, write the stuff he’s writing, walk the dogs. Did the word ‘dog’ come back? Yes it did. So, this person I’ve met and married, who likes to keep his passions simple,Β  never really wanders too far from this love of his. He dotes on them, gets up excruciatingly early to walk them, ensures they get very clean water, raw meat diet, and an indulgence in ruining my garden. And much more. For a person who lives his passion, my interest in that beautiful saree there or the awesome photo frame here or the latest bread-baking tip to get a result you don’t have to shove under your rockery is mind-boggling. Why this division of labour? And how come similarly excited responses to painting as well as photography as well as embroidery and volleyball?

Interests are about making choices. No one says there is only one interesting thing in the world. But most choose a manageable few and concentrate on them. Not me. Back in college, a friend of mine used to joke about not asking me for my choice of food or restaurant or movie, because I’d say that I’d enjoy them all anyway. No particular choice. It tickled her to see I didn’t want to make a choice. I was equally thrilled about all the options. (Well, fear not. I’ve mellowed considerably, especially after having ordered bamboo shoots in oyster sauce and having to surreptitiously close all the valves inside my nose when the dish escaped the kitchen, carried out by the very proud chef. Our heads turned in slo-mo to see its steam wafting all over the eatery, almost killing everybody with its exotic, well, smell.Β  It was all my friends could do to keep a straight face. Or when I cringed on the very comfortable chair at a home theatre after having insisted my companions chose the movie. We watched a movie called Kidnapped and it turned out to be soft porn. My companion watchers were an eclectic collection of very conservative relatives, who knew not about the American Film Industry. Since then, I have no qualms in sharing my knowledge here and there. And making choices, too.)

But I am, generally, very thrilled about many things. I’ve tried many of them out. Like making stained glass collectibles, and selling them. Or doing several things as ‘hobbies’, growing junipers on rocks, sketching little girls with coloured pens, I could go on and on with the list. The point I’m trying to make is, even if I’ll never reach even close to perfection in any of them, I will have tasted a bit of their wonder. Isn’t that, in itself, perfection? Tasting various wonders. Perfect life, no?

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26 thoughts on “Jack? Master? or Nothing Much?”

  1. Your writing is honest and pure, and this post seems to be almost a plea. My mind is racing in many different directions with so many ideas of what I could say, but I hope it’s enough for now to just realize that someone is listening (or at least reading).

    About your many different interests and your imagined mediocrity: I didn’t know what cineraria were and had to look up the word. When I saw the images, I clicked on each one and was amazed by the colors and the variety. There was no one right flower. They were all beautiful, all exactly the right one for the moment. I think that’s how you see life, and I hope that vision never gets stifled. For you, there’s too much that’s fascinating to adhere yourself to any one thing. This isn’t mediocrity; it’s openness and versatility.

    I also understand why you may hesitate to start a long piece of writing such as a novel. It’s one more thing on which to focus some of your energy. But as I read this post I could see a novel developing before my eyes. I wonder if you can see it, too. If that’s what you want to do, I hope you’ll follow the thought to wherever it leads you. Who knows? It may lead you to Oprah! (By the way, she would never think of you as the Inadequate One, and neither do I.)

    1. Sure Charles. I’ll feel honoured. Your blogroll includes the best I’ve visited, so this’ll make me feel proud. As far as visitors are concerned, I can’t say I don’t care, but I stopped ‘praying’ for it some time back!

  2. It was my turn to find my mind racing when I read this. Two years ago – so long! – I pondered a bit myself and wrote a little bit called The Allure of Failure. I think you might enjoy my thoughts, though the best part certainly is the extended quotation from T.S. Eliot.

    You are exactly right that interests are about making choices. It’s also true that as we grow our interests change. Once upon a time I played the guitar, and now I don’t. Should I feel compelled to continue playing the guitar my entire life, simply because I began? Of course not.

    I have come to a point of my life where focus is my goal, but that is no doubt due partly to age (with perhaps 20 good years left, focus becomes more important!) and partly to discovered talent. I’ve never written until I began my blog two years ago. Now, there’s nothing I enjoy more than writing, and I’d like to hone the skills a bit before I can’t hold a pen or type any longer!

    I enjoyed this post and the others I’ve explored – and someday I’ll tell my firecracker story!

    1. Linda!
      It is indeed a wondrous thing to find people from across seven seas share similar basic values and cogwheels-in-the-mind. Perhaps this is why there are no languages in expressing emotions through eyes or each language (with some exceptions) has a word similar to Ma for mother. Humans are a predictable breed. Only, they don’t know it! πŸ™‚

      Thank you ever so much for visiting and appreciating. I feel a sense of pride in receiving you and your compliment, because you’ve impressed me like my mother’s honesty does.
      Priya

  3. I enjoyed your post and was so happy to see the comments from Charles and Linda. I know from their comments on Mostly Bright Ideas, and Charles’ on Big Happy Nothing, that it’s quite possible nobody could offer more insightful or thoughtful responses to a post. I agree with Charles that what might be perceived as mediocrity is actually openness and versatility. Now that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! πŸ˜‰

    Seriously, I am like you in that I enjoy trying and learning about many different things. Unfortunately, I have many unfinished projects as a result, but no regrets. In fact, I’m probably a Mediocrity Snob because I get bored and impatient with people who focus heavily on one thing.

    When I met my husband, he had a sailboat. I was excited about giving sailing a go because I had never done it. I love making acquaintances and learning from people. About his fellow sailing friends I thought, “How wonderful to have an opportunity to meet and talk with all of these new people.” Wrong! They drove me nuts because ALL they talked about was sailing. Even when we weren’t sailing! Enthralling topics like which brand of foul-weather gear was their favorite, how to clean fiberglass, and the type of paint they used on their hulls. They’d have nothing to do with talking about anything non-sailing related. The men and women alike. I told my future-husband that if he EVER bought me foul-weather gear for Christmas, it would be the last one we spent together.

    Tasting various wonders is, indeed, the perfect life! Keep doing all that you’re doing and enjoy, Priya! Thanks, too, for visiting my blog. I’m going to go check out Linda’s “The Allure of Failure.”

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this post and that there is a kindred spirit somewhere beyond here. Thank you.
      Charles and Linda are indeed people with awesome astuteness and an enviable depth of ‘manners’. They write simply the most fabulous comments, don’t they? Well, let’s not talk any more about them ‘behind their backs,’ however pleasant.
      It is a shame we are taught about not divesting our energies into various things. So much is left unexplored. I do agree that unfinished projects are unfortunate. But somehow, they resurface in my life again, and I normally end up finishing even some of those. Such fun.

      1. I once suggested to Charles that he call his blog Totally Bright Ideas, because of that awesome astuteness.

        I admire your ability to finish things!

        You just made me think that we should add exploration to openness and versatility.

    1. Thank you for loving them. Aren’t they just great? Moti and Bulu, I mean. They are snuggling right next to my husband as I type this and my world feels so complete…

      1. They are great, and I love their names. I lost my lab, Maggie, in June. She was my “daughter” for 13 years and loved to nap and snore beside me on the couch and bed. That sounds like we were both napping and snoring. Well, we probably were! πŸ™‚ Now my two cats have assumed her positions alongside me. I love ’em, but it’s not the same as having a faithful companion, or two (cats are so aloof, as we all know). Enjoy snuggling with those adorable doggies!

  4. Yes, dogs are certainly more loving and warm. You must miss Maggie. 13 years is a long companionship. It is wonderful, the way these animals liven up our lives. Even cats, in a way. Or the bird that’s chirping outside my window. I have a bird feeder that attracts all but the one I want to see from close quarters. He just chirps from a distance. He is the latest addition to the creatures that take my breath away. πŸ™‚

    And I’ve just visited his website. I agree Totally would suit the Idea better.

  5. Good heavens, Priya – I thought I’d commented on this post. I must’ve thought about it for so long that my brain thought I’d done it, when I hadn’t! (That’s one downside of having the sort of mind I have).

    I flit from one interest to another, I have a lot of them, yet if someone tries to pin me down to what they all are, I’m frequently unable to name more than one or two. I do something to the best of my ability then something else takes my interest and off I go to that. I do, eventually come back to a lot of things, but often the time in between – from starting to finishing – is so wide that I feel I’ve let my attention slip.

    1. It’s my turn to say Good Heavens! I didn’t remember not writing a reply to your comment.
      I completely understand what you are saying, because that’s the way I feel about my unfinished works. I begin one with much energy and towards the middle of it (usually) I either get too preoccupied with something else, or feel this one is ‘not so good just now’.

      However many excuses I give or get, I do feel deep down that this needs to change for me to be able to enjoy these things properly. Excellence is something else.

  6. So glad to have had this opportunity to read the post again! And, funny thing is, I was going to comment on Charles’ Grand Delusions that, again, his blog is worthy of being called “Totally Bright Ideas.” In fact, I’m going back there now to write that!

    P.S. So glad to have had this opportunity to see your cute pooches again, too!

  7. yes yes yes..i agree…it is a perfect life if we can taste a bit of wonder in all that we can do…hobbies,passions,work.. whatever you may call em…loved reading this piece and your doggies are adorable…and your pictures rock:))

  8. I LOVE the dog photos! And I can certainly relate to the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ mentality you struggle with. My husband has fantastic concentration, though over the years, twenty-two of them, he has learned to loosen up a bit from watching me flit about, doing all of god-knows-what at once! It’s wonderful we are so different – for imagine a world where we are all the same – even ask B how he would like it if you were exactly like him!!? Likely you would drive one another mad with your sameness, instead of piquing one another’s interest with your differences. Carry on, I say! πŸ˜€

    1. This was written months back, Bela. I am beginning to sense a better understanding in us now. While that trip to Alaska might not materialise any time soon, we’re still quite happy to know that we “pique one another’s interest with our differences”. It keeps us happy. Thank you for taking time out! I always feel good when you visit and tell me your thoughts.

  9. Morning, Priya. Your 2 babies are beautiful πŸ™‚ It sounds like you just want to be a part of as much as you can. You must be a wide open soul. Good for you. Hope you enjoy your week.

    Kathryn

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