a milewide

my little soapbox

Getting Your Black Belt In 30 Years

I have many interests, hobbies and desires. I guess many would view this as the classic “Jack of All Trades — Master of None” type thing… I’d like it if I had the time to master all them. This is a real struggle for me; One seems to have to whittle down the set of interests into things that either bring financial rewards, maybe the few of the things bring the most personal pleasure and focus on those if one hopes to gain any real or deep knowledge on anything.

I was browsing the internets today (same thing we do every day Pinky) and came across this amazing article by Peter Norvig. However, it wasn’t that article that spoke to me today… I was reminded of (and reread) this older article. After some time I now realize how very true this is… I would say that I have a surface level knowledge of many things (deep enough to fool many non-experts anyway) — but feel I’ve mastered very little. Maybe even nothing? These things take time.

One of my hobbies are practicing the martial arts. I enjoy all the physical and mental aspects of training. When I first started training as a teen (and off and on many years to follow) I really focused hard on the getting the next kyu rank/ the next belt. But due to other obligations, I’ve not been able to train as hard as I should and it’s taken me a very long to get the coveted “Black Belt”. Somewhere along the way though — my intentions and reasons to train really changed. Even before I reached this “milestone” I realized that this is just step — not and endpoint. I haven’t really “mastered” anything… I’ll probably train the rest of my life and never feel as competent and fluid with my movement as I wish I could be. All I can do is keep going (頑張って).

As well, growing up as a child, I had the impression that all the adults and parents around me had all of their shit together. They had their purpose and knew their place in life. Having been a parent for a decade now with children creeping up on their teens I now realize just how hard everyone fakes it. There is wisdom and experience with age sure, but I feel that we’re all kind of limping along in life without completely having a clue as to why. Everyone has their ideas and theories sure… but I wouldn’t say that I truly “have my shit together” — nor have I met another person void of their own set of problems and issues they are working through. All I can do is keep going.

So it is with my education. I was a bit late starting higher my higher education… but when I finally did I dove in headfirst. I actually felt kind of disappointed when I graduated and got a diploma. I thought to myself, “This is it? — There is still so much to learn…” Not that I expected to learn all there is to know in school, more that I was overwhelmed by the realization of just how much that I don’t (and possibly will never) know. In a notebook next to a drawing of his, Michelangelo wrote the words Ancora Imparo — loosely: Yet I am (still) learning — I’m surely never be at the level Michelangelo was at as an artist in anything I do, however, All I can do is keep learning.

It is all just a bit humbling I guess.

Maybe I don’t have to worry so much about learning everything there is to know in life. I’ll probably continue to try advancing my understanding on many fronts (just my nature) but I guess in the end I just hope to be a better person… Hopefully to gain some insight into how/why I exist in this crazy world. Happiness even?

To me it comes down to these two things. 頑張って — and never cease to learn new things…