When I was a kid, I loved playing everything I could get my hands on, basketball, road hockey, squash, tennis, chess, badminton, ping pong, baseball, anything. I didn’t play them all at any high level of competition, except for squash, but I did learn how to compete, how to endure, and how to use my body. This is such a vital concept in the realm of athleticism. In ancient times athletes competed in a multitude of sports events, they trained their bodies to be versatile. If they only trained for one sport I suppose that they may win, but they would lose any grand glory which awaited those diligent enough to be versatile. Learning a multitude of skills from a broad range of sports was, and I believe still is, essential.
In ancient times, learning a multitude of masteries was an essential virtue to any craft.
There are some exceptions, some athletes seem to have been born with a golf club in hands, or some other sporting tools. Before you are convinced your offspring must be the next Tiger Woods or Floyd Mayweather, consider if these superstars have turned out to be generally happy and stable. There are many arguments in opposition of this intense expertise and I’m sure the thought conjures up multiple reasons why this is so. I am not going to consider whether this is a good way, many chapters have been written on the subject. I am here to emphasize the advantage of having a multitude of masteries in any expertise.
Consider two painters, one who is a considerable oil painter but ignorant to the other mediums, the second is less skilled but able to paint in everything from acrylic to water colour. Let’s get each painter to paint a variety of landscapes, pictures, concepts, and abstract work. Which painter would you think is going to be able to capture the essence of each work better? Which painter would you believe to improve the most? As an artist, being able to push the boundaries of imagination is part of your job. It is difficult to do that through one area of expertise.
Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel shows man’s indifference to the suffering of his fellowmen. It is a powerful theme shown in a rather simple way with Icarus, the Greek character suffering under water and people going on with their work.
Think of it this way… In front of you stands a large wall. Your job is to penetrate the said wall. You take a good look at it, it seems fairly strong, but you know people have managed to break through before. At each area which someone has broken through there is an extra, tougher, layer behind. This means there may be some weak points, some points almost impenetrable. You have a choice: one large concentrated force, or a myriad of forces throughout.
Picasso depicts the bombing of the city of the Spanish city of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.
We must give ourselves the best opportunity to succeed. Who knows, you may just find a hole in the wall.