The age of the Renaissance Man has returned. There may not be many with skills rivaling DaVinci’s, but there sure are many people in modern times successfully pursuing multiple careers. There is the common singer-actor, the sports professional-small business owner and the more uncommon…Richard Branson. I wonder how these people have become successful in multiple pursuits without losing focus. I wonder even more how people can just choose one thing and decide to become great at it over the course of their lives. Both options require a great deal of focus; in different ways.
I’ve always had a problem with choosing just one thing and doing it. During middle school band practice, I wanted to be at the theater club. I quit football in high school because of the time commitment, only to find myself torn between jazz band and track (and still wondering what the theater club was up to). I was involved in a different extracurricular every year in college. Whenever I was at one place, I felt like I was missing out on something else. Everything caught my interest.
It took me a few years, but I’ve recently noticed myself falling into an almost seasonal pattern. For a few months straight I’ll focus on just one passion: writing or Hip-Hop. Then an external influence comes along, something that reminds me of my other lost Love. Moments later my ego questions me relentlessly: “Why did I drop that pursuit? Think about where you’d be now if you didn’t give up. You’re running out of time, man. Just do it!” On and on go these thoughts in my mind. Finally, I decide to put current projects aside, and dive into a new (but really not so new) passion.
After realizing this pattern, I considered an alternative: doing both Hip-Hop writing and personal writing simultaneously, but at a lower intensity. Instead of posting on Tales of a Ronin weekly, I lowered my frequency to 1-2 tales month. I spent this new-found time writing rhymes and fleshing out my Hip-Hop persona. But things just didn’t seem to be adding up. On the writing side, I was rushing posts and having a hard time discovering things to write about; despite having created a really good habit of journaling everyday. When it came to writing rhymes, my aspirations for perfection had me in an indefinite writers block. I couldn’t handle the daily transition from letting my pen flow freely to structuring its inky words into verses. Verses filled with the same synchesis, chiasmus, and hysteron proteron that Vergil used in the Aeneid. I was trying to connect present-day Hip-Hop with it’s distant ancestor: Latin Lyric. All while creating a futuristic, spaced-out vibe. This wasn’t something I could do for a half hour and then check off my to-do list. This project needed a significant amount of time and attention. Overall, I was not making significant progress in either types of writing and found myself drifting more to Tales of a Ronin. It was less difficult of a challenge; just the thought of my Hip-Hop project scared the hell out of me.
Will Smith once said in an interview that he is motivated by a “fear of fear.” When I first heard this almost four years ago it instantly made sense. At the time I had so many fears not rooted in logic or reason. I hated foods I never tried. Afraid to do things I never done. I even had a fear of alcohol, no lie haha. It frustrated me to have these fears that weren’t even life threatening. Those words have stuck with me to this day. If they didn’t, I might have never came to Japan. So when something fears me, like this Hip-Hop project I’ve been working on, it only seems logical for me to take on the challenge.
But then there’s personal blogging; something I enjoy doing. It’s also something I’ve been told I’m good at; I would have never started Tales of a Ronin if I didn’t receive positive feedback from my Temple Japan blog. Every other article I read online about finding your passion, career, etc. has a similar thread. They all state, directly or indirectly, to pick something your both good at and enjoy doing. Then work on that thing until you become great at it. When I read these articles it all makes perfect sense to me. I should get back to writing that movie script, or get working on that novel. Using my blog and journal as references/idea generators.
Both passions, Hip-Hop writing and personal writing, seem to be equally logical pursuits in my mind. But when done simultaneously, it just doesn’t mix. I believe that if I focus on just one at a time, my productivity will increase exponentially. Maybe that novel could get done in a year, rather 3-4 years. Maybe I could be finished with the Hip-Hop project in eight months. But which should I choose? There’s always that one worry in the back of my mind that I won’t be able to accomplish all that I set out to be in Life. If I put something on hold, I may never return to it. This worry causes me to fall into an existential paralysis. I see my dreams as full-blown, very possible realities. Yet the awareness of my own mortality makes me wonder if I have the time to do it all.
I set out writing this in hopes that I would finally make a decision at it’s conclusion. But I didn’t realize, until I started writing these very words, that I had already chosen. I made the choice as soon as I wrote the first sentence of this tale. My chosen medium of expression wasn’t Hip-Hop. It was what I’m doing right at this very moment.