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Bon mots - A little less than a happy high — LiveJournal
Bon mots
My internal censor engaged at least twice this afternoon. Somethin' fierce. I'm aware that this sort of thing happens to everyone to a greater or lesser extent as a matter of course. The censor is simply a programmed mechanism designed to save embarrassment either to yourself (Self?) or to someone else. I'll call it a social nicety.

The trouble is, I've recently grown more aware of just how much that process holds me back. I'm not just talking about witticisms, quips, and flirtations here. This runs the whole gamut. Take Friday, for instance. Having just finished In the Heart of the Sea, a yarn about the wreck of the whale ship Essex, I started thinking about sailing again (like you do). The first thing in my head was my missed opportunity to circumnavigate the globe on the post-refit maiden voyage of the barque Picton Castle.

Now, it was this same internal censor that convinced me that selling all of my worldly possessions, cashing out any other assets I had accumulated, and then casting myself upon the mercy of the universe on an untested ship for a year's adventure was irresponsible, if not downright irrational. I stayed at home and passed up an adventure I'd still be telling stories about. Why? Because it was too far out of what was expected. This was perhaps the strongest pull towards something that was genuinely me, and I passed it up so I could keep my job as a bureaucrat. But that's not really what I wanted to talk about. Having that much trust in the universe/powers that be/whatever takes a supreme act of courage. That step was huge. What I'm thinking is much more subtle and insidious.

Over the past few years, I've been experimenting with new ways of thinking. One of the more useful involves understanding scale and scope. If your wildest dreams are out of reach, sometimes you can find experiences that can that will fill the void left or even bring you closer just a little closer to them. So here, I started thinking about the Picton Castle, but rather than getting overwhelmed with regret over that decision, I started to look into other ideas.

What about other tall ships? Most have pretty much the same level of financial and temporal commitment.

Schooners? There's some promise there, but it looks like they're mostly charters, and it's not clear that visitors get to crew. Plus, it feels like the cost becomes inflated simply because they're mostly historic ships and need historic maintenance.

How about more generic ocean sailing instruction? These are interesting. Ten day courses in "navigation" or "advanced sailing" that take place on a large vessel that travels to Nova Scotia or the US Virgin Islands. Courses seem to run about $1600 - $1800, which is steep but not outrageous for a two week vacation. It does look like I should have more experience before attempting something like it.

Coastal sailing courses? Sure thing. Affordable classes are available in Boston Harbor, but even before that...

Boston Community Sailing. $190 for the season, and I can learn how to handle small boats on the Charles River. It's a minuscule outlay that will at least satisfy some curiosity if not expose me to something I might love.

Here's where things got weird. I actually started getting depressed at the prospect because I didn't want to say I was thinking about another hobby. Cooking, brewing, cheese making, pottery, photography (not to mention the too-long neglected kung fu and bicycling)... In every case, I go through periods where they capture my imagination and sometimes I even produce good work, but I'm a long way from mastery in anything I do. I know that that has the potential to come with time and experience, but I really need to focus enough attention on something so that there's enough time for me to get the experience. Sometimes, it feels like I've got the attention-span of a ferret on speed, and you know, that's frustrating and often a little embarrassing.

I can turn that around in my head to realize that it's all part of the process, that even my in scattershot attempts I am doing precisely what I need to do to honor those parts of me that I've neglected. It's always been a struggle for me against convention and expectation and responsibility. Fear. The censor is fear internalized, and I don't want to be ruled by it any longer.
28 comments or Leave a comment
esmerel From: esmerel Date: July 11th, 2005 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're not the only jack of all trades out there. I think my list can compare to yours. :) I have the same issues with focusing. Something will sweep me up for a while, and I'll have a lot of fun, then it just kinda goes on the back burner. After I've spent a nice wad of cash on it!
clayrobeson From: clayrobeson Date: July 11th, 2005 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
And to be perfectly honest, why master anything? The act of becoming perfect in something can sometimes get rid of the gleam of awesomeness that it held for you when you first took it up.

Hell, just like esmerel my list of stuff is pretty long, too. Become a master of making yourself happy, and enjoying yourself. If other mastery happens along the way, so be it. But if not, don't stress.

When you're ready to start planning a "sailing adventure" let me know, cause I'm sure that givemethewhip and I would come along!

komos From: komos Date: July 12th, 2005 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never believed in perfection. I do very much believe in growth, though, and in the need to push to the limits of one's own abilities. Yes, I understand there there is a temporal aspect to those limits (i.e. "the limits of my abilities right now), but mastery is about pushing those limits, passing through, and then discovering where the new ones lie.
From: corvus_coronis Date: July 12th, 2005 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I can relate to that as well - comes from switching from one medium to another a lot. But a good side to that (for me) is the switching does help keep the general interest up.

(ps - that icon is something else!)
komos From: komos Date: July 12th, 2005 02:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't suppose we could convince you to share some of your work at some point, could we? ^_^
From: corvus_coronis Date: July 13th, 2005 03:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I've got several galleries & some fanfics up online - I should have mentioned them long ago. Apart from the site linked to my lJ (which is mostly generators & junk) I also have:

The Red Gallery

My Elfwood Gallery (the fan-art section should get an update any day now)

my fanfic.net account (one of the stories needs editing - better verion of it here) - plus some recent fan-art which I'll be putting onto a new section of my gallery:
Decadent!Harry (a comment from nigeltde gave me the inspiration for inspiration for that one),
Shinxie!Snape (from something that came up on a discussion esleswhere),
Snape (for no particular reason) & wishingJKwouldbenicertohim!Snape
a Kif (alien species from Cherryh's Chanur SF series).
komos From: komos Date: July 13th, 2005 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awesome. Thanks!

Decadent Harry is brilliant, btw. ^_^
From: corvus_coronis Date: July 13th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
'Ta - 'twas a gift from the muse, that one.
komos From: komos Date: July 13th, 2005 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mind if I share? I know someone who has to see...
From: corvus_coronis Date: July 14th, 2005 01:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Go ahead
komos From: komos Date: July 12th, 2005 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Honestly, I don't think that there's anything wrong with having diverse interests. It's more like I worry that I spread myself too thin, and as a result am missing some depth of experience I feel I should have.
wisdom_seeker From: wisdom_seeker Date: July 11th, 2005 09:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think you are truly on to something here. Having seen you get stuck, for want of a better word, at a certain level in whatever hobby, I think it always comes down to fear, but it's fear of your own expectations. You have wanted to be the best at everything you do, and rather than chance not being as good as you thought you ought to eventually be, you stopped altogether. The difference I hear in this post is that you are starting to scale yourself back, wisely, and to approach things in a way that will allow you to attain what you reasonably can attain in each arena, and to enjoy those attainments without chiding yourself for not being the absolute best. I can hardly wait to see what comes next for you :-) The boating sounds wonderful!
komos From: komos Date: July 12th, 2005 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not scaling back so much as laying out a plan that has the potential to go further.
wisdom_seeker From: wisdom_seeker Date: July 12th, 2005 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's what I meant: You're setting reachable goals with the idea that you may go farther, but there's nothing wrong with enjoying reaching that smaller goal in the meantime and/or deciding you don't actually want to go farther. It seems like you're giving yourself more freedom to experience where you're at, instead of beating yourself up for not being where you "should" be.
dirtymikesell From: dirtymikesell Date: July 11th, 2005 11:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Your post is long and I got distracted.

As for Internal censor... where do you get one?

komos From: komos Date: July 12th, 2005 01:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

There were lots of shiny things...

Seriously, you have one. It's that nagging voice that leads you to choose the batman costume instead of wearing fringed leather chaps and nothing else.
dirtymikesell From: dirtymikesell Date: July 12th, 2005 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: There were lots of shiny things...

oh THAT voice.

Not the one that instructs me to kill.
komos From: komos Date: July 12th, 2005 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: There were lots of shiny things...

Right. The killing voice is stress. Pure and simple.
dirtymikesell From: dirtymikesell Date: July 13th, 2005 12:16 am (UTC) (Link)

wait...when were you in my closet?

"fringed leather chaps and nothing else."

'cause I'm pretty sure you haven't been to the web site..
komos From: komos Date: July 13th, 2005 12:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: wait...when were you in my closet?

My mind to your mind.

futurenurselady From: futurenurselady Date: July 12th, 2005 01:18 am (UTC) (Link)
There's nothing wrong with having diverse hobbies. Remember though, that they are hobbies. You don't have to be the best at them, you just have to enjoy them.

At the point where you stop enjoying them (for whatever reason) there is nothing wrong with dropping them. Don't chastise yourself for losing interest in a pastime. I know it's easy to personalize things you care about, but they are things, activities. They don't have feelings and won't mind if you leave, or even if you leave to do something else.

Guess the point is, trying something and either not liking it or not doing that well at it is ok. You're ok. I'm ok. And if you ever want to try canoeing, look me up... I've had an on again off again affair with it.
komos From: komos Date: July 12th, 2005 02:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I used to canoe quite a lot. River trips mostly, with some forays into white water - nothing higher than class 3, but even that can get the blood racing. ^_^ I'm currently without a boat, but I know that there are a few rivers within easy striking distance that have rentals available.

I kind of want to try sea kayaking, too.

I need a house just to have space to keep all my gear.
futurenurselady From: futurenurselady Date: July 13th, 2005 01:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Lots of places along the Charles have rentals. Sea kayaking is big up here, and i'm sure can be done pretty easily.

I went outrigger canoing not long ago on the ocean in Beverly and it was great!
komos From: komos Date: July 13th, 2005 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Let me know if you get the yen for small paddled craft. I could easily be convinced to hit the Charles or most anywhere else for the day.
why_style From: why_style Date: July 12th, 2005 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

just my personal experience...

i can so relate to this. i used to have a million things i was halfway into. i'd skip around from one thing to the next and never really get anywhere. it was fun in the moment, but often when i sat back to reflect, i'd feel disappointed and frustrated that i didn't accomplish anything. i don't think there's anything wrong with that being into lots of things- it is good to diversify and makes for an interesting person- but after a bit of an existential crisis, i ended up deciding that i wanted to focus my time, energy, and cash and feel like i was getting somewhere. i stopped writing and painting and everything else, and i put everything into making music, investing money in my computer and home studio and setting aside time specifically for music making merriment.

what i've found is that i can still appreciate things like art and literature without feeling like i need to contribute something of myself, and i'm still happy. even though i think music is my #1 passion, i probably could have been content immersing myself in listening to good music had i chosen another hobby instead. of course i'd love to try brewing my own beer or learning kung fu, and i still hope that someday i'll win the lottery and might find a way to pursue things like that, but as long as i'm still in reality i can drink a tasty beverage while watching a sonny chiba flick and be happy. i like playing with my camera, and sometimes i still write a little something, but i know that i'm not going to be able to do what it takes to be an expert so i just have fun without approaching it as a serious pursuit.

i know this doesn't work for everyone, but i thought i'd throw my 2 cents in anyway.
komos From: komos Date: July 12th, 2005 02:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: just my personal experience...

You're definitely keyed into what I'm talking about, but I think you've managed a step beyond where I'm sitting right now. I haven't managed to find that one thing (yet), and I'm fairly desperate to.
why_style From: why_style Date: July 12th, 2005 02:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: just my personal experience...

i think the toughest part was really figuring out that i wasn't less of a person for wanting to be spread less thin. i used to feel like being bohemian and having a wide variety of skills and interests somehow validated me or something, but i've found that having a deeper experience with one thing has actually made me feel better about myself. plus i get more out of other people's work because i'm not always comparing it to how i would have done it or what i could take from it for my own stuff- i can appreciate it for what it is and the person's effort that went into it.

that said, it is tough to decide on one thing when so many catch your fancy and you're wondering, "will i still be into it six months or a year down the road or will i wish you'd chosen something else?" some of us are sort of hardwired to need regular change. for me it was really a gradual process where i'd take one thing away to see if i missed it, then maybe put that back in and take something else away, just trying different combinations and training myself to focus. i do still have the occasional doubt though...
why_style From: why_style Date: July 12th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: just my personal experience...

btw, bravo for not wanting to be ruled by fear! i still struggle with convention and expectation too (i usually break it down between pragmtism and passion). i'm definitely not the rebel i thought i'd be :)
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