On Being An Expert (At Anything)

PH1615I’ve always admired my father and two brothers who were/are experts in their fields. My father was a commercial and watercolor artist who was quite successful in Western New York. My oldest brother is a successful artist and teacher in Houston, Texas, and my next older brother is a successful violinist and Professor in Michigan.
I’ve envied the skills they have attained in their chosen professions; the patience, discipline and perseverance they showed to become the experts that they are.

Me, I love to learn new things, to take on challenges and get a great sense of pride in the process and the conquering of those challenges. I’ve loved the praise that I would get for the skill that I showed in the learning of new things.

But, I think I’ve often misunderstood that praise as an indication of a level of skill I’ve attained. Instead of recognizing it as praise for being skilled as a beginner, I’ve thought of it as if it were skill as an expert achieved in such a short time.

Then, I look at what I’ve made, or what I’ve accomplished and I’m disappointed because it doesn’t look like expert work. I see it for what it is; a good job “for a beginner” and I’m saddened because I thought it was better than that.

Then the glow fades, and I see that I haven’t accomplished what I meant to be, an expert, because it takes much more time, patience and perseverance to become a expert. I’m haunted by the phrase: “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

Lest you think this is some kind of “pity me” statement, it’s not,really. It’s a recognition that for some reason, a reason I search for frequently, I am the kind of person that is fascinated by the learning process, and the challenge of seeing if I can teach myself something new. Then, when that’s accomplished, I’m happy to go onto the next thing.

What that means is that I have been doing some amazing things throughout my life, and hope to share them here. Hope you enjoy the ride, but don’t look for expert anything, just the joy of the journey.


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