If you’re confused as to what you’re looking at, that’s entirely understandable. Be confused no more as I explain presently:
A few years ago, I thought that I wanted to make lovely, strange, stop-motion animations, using resin and silicone puppets and detailed sets a la Tim Burton. So I began researching how to make silicone molds and casts so that I could begin making my characters and creatures. It got off to a good start; it was challenging but fun, and I had a bazillion plans bouncing around my head like ping pong balls. Alas, the materials were SO expensive, and the “trial and error” thing too weighted on the “error’ side of things for me to be able to afford to keep going without compromising my ability to pay rent and eat. I had to postpone my animator plan…..and unfortunately ( but not surprisingly, considering my history) never went back to it.
The half face that you see above is a silicone cast of a pointless little sculpture I made using modelling clay. It was my first experiment with trying to get some sort of fleshy colour, but I didn’t mix the pigments very well, (as you can see by the little white “scars” he has there) and the mouth colour is very messy. But I wasn’t too displeased with it as a first attempt, and it was a fun learning experience.
So, ok. But why am I showing you this? Initially, because I noticed this half-faced fella in my craft room the other day ( I could never bring myself to throw him out), and finally got an idea of how to use him in a creative project. I won’t ramble on about said idea. I’ll get to the second reason instead:
I’m a Serial Dabbler. I don’t “specialise” in anything. I’m interested in many things ( too many things, it could be said), and, as a result have dipped my toes into many subjects. This results in a person who can do many things passably, but not one single thing brilliantly. This has been, and at times, still is, a source of extreme frustration to me. I’d LOVE to have a solid direction in life; something to concentrate ALL my creativity and energy into. But realistically, I’m never going to just suddenly stop being fascinated with all the things I’m fascinated with. That’s not gonna happen. Furthermore, if I’m honest, I really have zero desire to limit myself to one mode of self expression. There’s no way that would suffice. But this leaves me in an uncomfortable no-man’s-land, in which I feel as though I’m going nowhere fast.
I’m well aware that I’m not the only one with this dilemma. There are many of us “Serial Dabblers” ( or “Scanners”; “Experimenters”; “People Who Can’t Make Up Their Damn Minds”- whatever you want to call it) out there. We probably all face similar frustrations and confusion. I haven’t found an effective way to deal with this dilemma, so I don’t have any suggestions to offer those who also fall into this Serial Dabbler category. And, whilst what works for one person won’t always work for others, if you’re one of the fortunate people who have figured out a way of managing a herd of crazed interests, please feel free to comment regarding what’s worked for you. I’m open to handy hints!
In the meantime, I figure all I can do is try to accept that this just happens to be the way my brain operates. And really, is it all bad? It sure makes life interesting. You learn a lot. It expands your mind; gives you an insight into- and an appreciation of- things that were once a mystery. Sometimes you’ll meet someone in X occupation, and be able to have a great discussion about it with them because you researched that very subject years ago ( just before you realised you needed to research Y, instead ). That’s kinda nice. Or, maybe, while out window shopping, you’ll see a jacket you like but can’t afford, but because you dabbled in fashion design years ago, you’re able to go home and make a similar jacket for yourself, for a quarter of the price. Or just be able to fix something yourself instead of paying someone else to do it. Maybe the insomnia inspired trawlings of “Instructables” or “Make” Magazine will lead to new knowledge regarding a project you were stuck on, ( which you will still not complete, because now you’ve discovered what you really need to do is build a guitar, make some shoes, create a cake that looks like James Baxter from “Adventure Time”, and learn electronics). Or maybe, instead of finishing your own project, you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learnt along the way to help someone else finish theirs instead. Maybe you’ll end up finishing all your projects….just.. after about 20 years or so.
If there’s something I’ve noticed in life, it’s that some things that make very little sense at one time, somehow manage to make perfect sense later down the track. Maybe the whole “I can’t pick one thing to focus on” dealy will be one of those things. Or maybe it won’t. I don’t know. Maybe instead of seeing incomplete paths as Dead Ends, I’ll be able to see them as scenic stopovers on my journey to who-knows-where as we hurtle through space in pointless circles on our little Earth ship. And when I zoom out and look at things that way, it probably doesn’t matter as much as I think it does.