It’s a term that most people can get behind. I think that people use this as a reason for people to go to liberal arts-based college. It’s legitimate, I suppose. But I don’t think that going to a liberal arts school is going to do that for you (but then again, you already know my feelings on college in general).
And, I’m not advocating that people should give up focusing on one thing and trying to become an expert at it.
Quite the contrary, I’m postulating (and I know I’m not the only who thinks this) that people, and especially people pursuing a creative profession, become better at their primary area of focus as they challenge themselves at other, new tasks that are typically out of their scope.
I’m encouraging my children and myself to become adept at many different aspects of life. I’ll tell you why – I sometimes spend a huge amount of time convincing myself that I can’t do something, for many reasons. Most of them revolve around this main excuse: I’ve never done it before.
An example: We have many children, a fairly large dining room table for them to sit at, but not really enough space in our house to fit them all if they all have their own chair. So, for many months my wife and I tried to find a bench for the table, so that we could cut down the number of chairs we would need. If we had that, then we could increase the amount of free space in our living room/dining room combo.
So, for months we looked around for a cheap bench that met our specifications. We needed it to be a certain length, and we needed it to be sturdy, but we also needed it to be cheap. Well, we could never find anything that matched all of these specifications. So, my wife suggested that we just make it ourselves. Oh no, I complained, we can’t do that. I’ve never made a bench before (I do not have a lot of wood-working experience in my past), and I’d have to buy the wood, and so on.
One day, though, I happened upon some wood in our garage that I had forgotten about. I suddenly thought that maybe we could do it – after all, one of my excuses was moot now. My wife (who is great at googling things like this), found a few different blogs on “how to build a bench,” and then we just did it, we just built the bench. I had some stain and some sealant, and it just came to be in about a day.
We’ve been getting a lot of use out of this bench, and it’s been a great fit for our family. And, most importantly, it was practically free.
It also set a good precedent for our family – we can figure out how to do almost anything if we put our minds to it. It should be an interesting experiment as well when this Christmas the bigger girls get real bow and arrow sets. They aren’t too expensive, and since I’ve gotten mine, they say they want one as well.
Meanwhile, I’m going to try to stretch myself in new ways. It keeps life interesting. And, because the internet likes lists of things, here’s a list of ways that I am trying to encourage my children to become more well-rounded human beings:
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.