Plasticity of Me
We have been disseminated, broken down into our basic particles. We are no longer a collection of molecules, experiences and talents. We are seen as a small unit in the larger mechanism of the society. Everything requires a deep specialization within ones field, from scientists to teachers, from writers to singers.
If you are a writer, you must focus exclusively on writing, publishing online, blogs, opinion pieces, and short stories in magazines. You must market yourself through your website and through book signings, all this to increase your reach and your earning potential. If you are an engineer, the best for you is to pick a narrow field to increase your salary potential and thus your ability to "job hop" and increase your experience through diversification of your employers, all while staying within one field of expertise . This is what everyone wants to see, narrow and deep experience.
DaVinci's are no longer desired. If you go to an interview for an engineering job, you don't want to mention that you also paint. You cannot be successful in both fields; you may seem weird, out of touch and without proper desire to do your job and only your job. You must focus, go to seminars in your field, and learn more about your contracted line of work and interest. Become an expert in something. Really, anything!
Broader knowledge and interests are no longer valued. Your interest in poetry or philosophy or math or even jazz music no longer earn you admiring looks. It makes people think that you cannot make-up your mind. People have a hard time wrapping their mind around multiple disciplines of interest (and I am not talking about just vague interests, but actual interests where you are discoursing about the meaning of life and playing in a jazz band) and believing that you can be a complex instrument within your own individual existence.
Recently I read an article titled "The Space Between the Lines Is Your Life" in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Among other things, the writer talks about brain plasticity (actually neuroplasticity, but I like my layman term better). She spoke about brain's ability to switch functions between its components. If one part is damaged another takes over. Parts of the brain can do it, they adapt. Perfect. This is how I think of myself. I am a multifaceted unit, consisting of many different units each working on its own to create this crazy machine that is my life and my persona. Each unit is important, and each unit of my being is unique and can exist on its own within my complex being. I like math, numbers, and exact science. I am a mother and a wife. I love and cry. I am strong and capable. I nourish and I scold. I write. I sing (badly). I yell and cheer. I am passionate. I am attracted to weird art (Dali, Roger Ballen's photography, Georgia O'Keefe). I read weird stuff and forbidden stuff (Mein Kampf). I read the classics (Kafka and Camus) and romantic novels. I love to watch people to the point of rudeness, not because I am obnoxious (at least I don't think so), but because I want to see the world through their eyes to see how different or the same they are, how changeable they might be. I am so much more than just a sum of my individual predilections. I adapt and change from year to year, from moment tomoment. This keeps me alive.
Our plasticity lies in our ability to recognize that our varied interests are not a weakness or the lack of focus, but rather a unique ability to dissect the world in its multiple, multi-colored and beautiful parts, all independent of each other, yet fitting like puzzle pieces to create a bigger picture. Our changeability is our unique bond to all those parts and it is our love for the entire dissectable unit.
There are so many people in this world who did many different things, DaVinci and Newton, Aristotle and Jefferson. The course of ones life and perhaps even the destiny determine which of these things became a guiding principle in their occupations. Very few have the ability to change from one profession to another and even fewer can do more than one at the same time. Life currently is full of demands on our time. Families, our homes. Heck, shopping for food is more complicated than ever (organic vs non-organic, non-GMO, all-natural, endless choices). Navigating through the maze of insurance claims for all the medical needs, navigating the school system for our children, we have to be adaptable and we have to be knowledgeable about everything. Wait! So, you must know a little bit of everything to survive! You have to be a lawyer to know your rights; you have to know your medical condition and the condition of your children's health to guide them through the complex system that is our healthcare; you must be a chemist/herbologist to know what products are safe for our families; you have to be dietitian to know how to feed your family properly.
Why, then, it is frowned upon in the workforce and our society in general to diverge your interests and focus your attention on various things, broadening your scope, instead of narrowing it? In life, as in work, it is impossible to know everything, even within one subject, so why do we limit ourselves to a particular part of our being and neglect other needs which are desperate to see the light of day.
Perhaps it's a fear of failure and dislike or a desire to strive for perfection. Perhaps it is our own internal brakes stopping us to blossom into this beautiful flower of abundant recognition of life as a whole.
I am me. I love what I love. I love everything. I want to know about everything. I want to know how the Earth moves and how numbers converge to infinity. I embrace myself and thus I am free.