I drive a Subaru Baja. It's an unusual car/truck combo that only lasted production for four years back in the early 2000's. Four doors, a 4-cylinder motor (mine is turbo charged), roof racks and a truck bed barely large enough to haul a refrigerator, this car is an anomaly to most. I read one person describe it as a "jack of all trades" kind of car, and I think that's a great description.
In all its glory.
That is a term my father has always ascribed to himself (though he's good enough at most things to get by with a little more than "jack"). He can fix anything, coach sports he's hardly played and play the drums with no lessons. He's a writer, professor, public speaker and successful businessman, on top of a thirty-year career in public works. I tell my friends about him and they are all surprised to find he still surfs and snowboards more than some of them do. Maybe that's why he likes my Baja so much.
And so it's no surprise, with a role model like my dad, that I have always aspired to the same status, not seeing "jack of all trades" as a bad thing, but an incredible asset, ignoring the second half of the saying, "master of none." But as I've grown older, I found that our society doesn't really honor the "jack" as much as I always did. As I've looked for jobs, they want someone who is really good at one thing rather than kind-of good at a lot of things. As I've volunteered for friend's film projects, I never seem to fit into anyone one particular role. As the people around me progress in their fields, I find myself somewhat left behind.
It works...sort of?
Writing blogs, films and novels. Shooting movies, music and skate videos. Making music for licensing, films and fun. Maybe I'm too indecisive to choose just one thing to get good at, but really I just love to do a lot of things! However, when you're trying to make a career out of them, being sort of good at a lot of things doesn't match up to the guy who is really good at what is needed. It's like getting a degree in Liberal Arts and then trying to get a job as an english teacher -- the guy with the English degree is going to beat you out every time, even if you took a ton of literature classes.
So what do I do? Flounder about from one passion to another, maybe one day attaining some degree of masterhood when I've logged enough hours at something? Or the road more traveled: focus on a skill and really dig in until I'm good at it, neglecting my innate desire to try new things far too often? I'm not sure. I read that to be a true Jack you need to master at least one thing, which gives you the foundation to build upon for your other interests, and then branch out. That seems okay. I also read that leaders and pastors tend to be Jacks. Sounds good. My wife encouragingly said that most fathers are Jacks. Alright!
One thing I know for sure is, if you ever need to catch some waves, carry four people, haul a refrigerator in the back and do it quickly (turbo!) at the same time...you might need my Baja. And on that fatefully strange day, when four people need a refrigerator on the beach in a hurry to catch a swell, all the other vehicles will shrink back when the call to service is made, leaving this strange sort-of-car/sort-of-truck a proud forefront, doing what it's made to do while the others go off to garages and driveways, wondering what on earth just happened.
Yes, maybe I need to pick one thing...or maybe I'm just waiting for my day.