Jack Of All Trades

…master of none.

Before I start, I’d recommend that people look up the origin and history of that saying. It is fascinating!

Anyway, let’s talk about a fun part of growing old. Growing old has one perk that is often overlooked or dismissed. It’s a certain kind of wisdom. Not about the world, but about oneself.

Before there is confusion, let me clarify something: Being older does not make you wiser. In the immortal words of Scroobius Pip (the spoken word performer and hip hop artist, not the character of Lear’s poem):

Observation, not old age, brings wisdom.

(Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Waiting for the beat to kick in)

(Edit: Apparently, this is a Publilius Syrus quote. Fair enough.)

However, getting older increases the chances of making the right observations and piecing them together to wisdom.

A piece about myself I learned (accepted) recently, is the fact that I have a more generalist nature. I feel significantly better, knowing a little something about a wide variety of topics rather than being a specialist in only one realm. Even subjects that interest me more than others, I tend to attack from an angle that would make them a piece in the puzzle – the grand scheme of things.

This character trait reveals itself in a lot of small ways. I love (pop)music and (pop)culture, but you would never find me memorising the birthdays of my favourite band’s members. Honestly, I just really don’t care. I am more interested in a band’s history and their place within their time, within their scene, within their time. I don’t exactly need to know when ‘Live Forever’ was recorded. My head wants and needs to know what the song means to the band, the fans, the world. (Some might say *tehehehe* it is just a pop song and therefore means nothing, but you are wrong. It is the best song ever written. Fight me!)

I love reading. I have read a bunch. I’d genuinely say, I have read more than most of my contemporaries. Still, you will seldomly hear me quoting books. Or remembering main character names. Hell, sometimes I forget large chunks of the general plot. And yet, I am pretty sure that, if pressed, I can somehow tell you what each book I ever read was generally about.

If you put me in a quiz about the mating behaviour of opossums, I will probably come dead last. Put me in a general knowledge quiz, and I’ll likely surprise you with a wide range of odd factoids from sometimes obscure fields.

Where does that leave me, though? After all, there is truth to the derogatory bit of the saying. Even though I hate the notion that my knowledge is superficial, I’ll happily admit that for the most part, it is not a productive (and subsequently exploitable) skill. I am sometimes astonishingly good at transferring knowledge and skills between topics, but how do you prove this to an employer? In a world of specialization, who needs people like me? Especially when these crossreferences sometimes misfire severely and make me look a fool.

It’s a weird bit of creativity I possess and know nothing to actually do with.

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