I am a sucker for a good Ted talk but reading in a moving a vehicle makes me carsick, so books on tape and podcasts are to me like pennies from heaven. The other day I amused myself by watching a short podcast by Emily Wapnick, a writer, artist and all around funny person. Sitting in a crowded bus, I giggled, hopefully not too loudly to startle anyone. She mused about the pressure put on three year olds, by us wise adults. So young man/lady, what do you want to be when you grow up? And they are supposed to have a clue? Astronaut, fireman, ballerina, doctor and nurse are some of the favourites. Imagine the pressure when the kid grows older and discovers they are not astronaut or ballerina material. They find they have other talents, often several of them, all of which are worth pursuing as a vocation to actually pay the rent. Imagine that! Some of us realize we can make people laugh and get paid for it. Others find their passion in designing things. Architects, fashion designers, computer programmers, landscape artists and others create beauty and function. For some, painting, sculpture or writing speed their blood flow. Healing the sick, defending justice or finding cures for incurable diseases. Many of these people paint, write, act, raise kids, lecture and do any or many of the above. The teacher who directs, writes and is a scholar of magnitude. Or the perfect mom/wife, who is also a tough company CEO is artistic, beautiful and supremely caring. Impossible? Not so.
Our culture dictates that one must specialize in something, and all else may be hobbies at most. The term Jack of all trades, master of none was coined to describe the horrific dangers awaiting us if we fail to squeeze our entire being into one specialized hole.
It is interesting to note that Leonardo da Vinci was just a single example of what Ms. Wapnick calls multi potentiality.
This epitome of a Renaissance man Leonardo was a fabulous painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer.
Imagine how he answers the question: Hey there Lenny, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Even I had to rattle off 4-5 professions, most of which became my calling. I am grateful for honoring them and my spirit. Unlike Cinderella stepsisters, I refused to squeeze my foot into the wrong slippers and lose my metaphoric big toe in the process. I stayed whole as did my foot.