expertEverywhere one looks, one is subjected to the considered opinion and expertise of some specialist representing some specific field of narrow subject matter.  The world now comes wrapped in a steady stream of updates and public service announcements, sent from vested lobbyists that can’t wait to educate and inform us on some highly technical rule of thumb.  Getting the experience matters little compared to the quick regurgitation or forced bombardment of quick instruction.

When I was younger I wanted to cash in on this enviable situation—for example gaining some public TV slot on a special on some SPECIFIC slice of history like an obscure battle or memorizing every fact on some unheralded President biography.

But by now, I look back in my rear view mirror and, since I have added so many chunks of decades to my career already, I have decided that I am proud to finish the course by being an accommodating generalist in the completely opposite camp.

It’s enough to drive one into a nervous disorder due to all the specific things in our life that we can’t possibly find the time to keep track of and master.  Very little of it is even beneficial–were we to apply every fiber of our being to understanding it.

On a typical commercial break on TV, we are taken to task by some re-enactor dentist who reminds us about all the acidic foods we eat and why we should buy this ANTI acid toothpaste product.  Or we are warned about our poor retirement planning and how unsure and shaky our future really is unless we place a call now.  How about identity theft and fraud?  Handsome and gorgeous paid spokesmen are on hand to explain to us how fragile our security really is and what we should do about it.

Warranties and instruction manuals are crammed on line and in hard copy—with hundreds of languages and hundreds of scenarios.  Pumping gas has a zillion fine print warnings on the proper way of pumping—if we were to bother snapping ourselves out of our gas pumping daze and glance over.

So many people, masquerading as temporary best friends, waltz in and out of our lives in order to sell aluminum siding or remind us to replace our air filter more diligently every 3 months.

Why even laminated self-folding maps bought at local 7-11’s come complete with instructions on how to properly FOLD the sides of the laminated map in the correct sequence.

Pretty soon the entire world will become universally college educated, thanks to on-line schools and pyramid schemes.  And it will all result in a massive traffic jam of overqualified unemployed people that wonder if their degree was real or just some new way to hide some pyramid scheme.

Yet all it seems to translate into our feeling more ignorant and helpless than ever before as we purchase more BOOKS FOR DUMMIES series in order to have a working knowledge of something in order to be competent.

As more and more technology replaces the one we just became conversant in it seems like the entire world is becoming ONE long H&R tax visit full of mumbo jumbo.  You know the kind in which the details make little sense to the person that it impacts most and where the whole outcome is tenuous at best and out of our hands.

Just look at the profile of motivational speakers that make the most money in the education circuit or ANY circuit for that matter.  They are almost always the folks that peddle some type of specific expertise in something like behavior sciences or computer sciences.  They usually come from high positions first and have unlimited access to publishing LOTS of journals and articles on similar subjects that befits their expertise.

All of this makes me think that it is somewhat of a noble calling VOCATIONALLY therefore, for a person to dare carving out a career based on NOT being an expert and cluttering the world with another pamphlet or some kind of preachy explanation on how we need to be improved.

In the short run, it may cause anxiety and many lean years of uncertainty for the liberal arts minded individual, but I find myself feeling grateful for the predicament of definitely not contributing to the industry of HOW TO run your life better based on some new formula or assessment tool.

I know for a fact that in some of the big public school systems I worked in, that most of the evaluation tools used by administrative supervisors were based solely on criteria that minimized the creative and maximized the devil’s advocate categories of presentation and materials used.

And the much worried about and fretted over paperwork content that was held in such esteem, usually resulted in very little brain power or inspiration.  It was just another busy HURDLE to meet deadlines by in order to have evaluations seem important.

It might secure someone’s position up the career ladder to the ivory tower, but it is often built on the bells and whistles of pomp and circumstance, and the latest mastery of some software program.  What is missed is the heart and soul.  Do we need more of this static?

Its final destination of course was prophesized years before as FUTURE SHOCK.  Focusing on too much information with nagging from too many vested points of view all lead to a state of discontent with no chance of mastery.

Filling paperwork out in a timely manner is a wonderful feeling and the completed forms may be useful tools, but they barely scratch the surface of the deeper value and meaning that we hold for each other.

All of this makes me inclined to think, that if one can put up with the ignominious rough phases and the occasional collection of “Books for Dummies series” on the shelves, we do ourselves and the world a big favor by living for FAR more in our formal and informal lives—because then we are seeing the world in a transcendental light that doesn’t sweat the tedious details but glories in the little unmeasurable ones that count most.


About John Watts

I like to write transcendental community based essays and stories along with photo journalism pieces.
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