You don’t want to look into my mind. I don’t want to look into my mind. A deep void of slathering, pretty pink goo. It’s actually not a bad mind, as minds go, but it’s a sensitive butterfly. A colourful one, but a butterfly nonetheless. Settles on something for a nano moment, ruminates silently and digests it, is distracted by something else equally interesting, and flutters off at a tangent before you can blink and sneeze.
I’m a Jill of a number of trades (mistress of none? Not quite that bad...). My mind has a mind of its own. It’s a Renaissance Soul mind.
Take Mozart (to the pub if necessary…). He pursued his main musical interest and became a legend because of it. Now take Benjamin Franklin: Inventor, printer, statesman, scientist, journalist. Absolute Renaissance Soul. Thirdly, take Leonardo Da Vinci. This man had so many interests he couldn’t keep up with himself. Artist, scientist, inventor, engineer dadeda. He was the Renaissance Soul. Now, I’m not a genius like he was (there's always hope…) but I often joke that I have gazzillions of interests. So many that I wish I was an octopus or an ant. Like Leo, my projects lie unfinished, abandoned and coated with dust, the novelty worn off, because something else caught my eye and looked a tad more interesting. I'm soooo pleased. If he can do it, so can I. Hah! When absorbed, I ignore my loved ones - who object hotly that the toast is burning - again - and I object hotly when either I get a phone call (I hate phones) or someone comes to call if it’s evening when I’m at my most absorbed.
I read, I watch telly. I listen to people, and something catches my attention and I scribble in my notebook or tap into my phone for later reference. I love learning. I habitually watch Eggheads (UK tv) and feel inordinately proud of myself when I manage to answer obscure questions. I was really pleased when I correctly answered the question: ‘What was the name of Eagle comic's Dan Dare’s companion?’ Digby. The name had ensconced itself among the cobwebs in my skull all these years after reading my brothers’ comics until now, when needed. Fancy that.
Talking of learning, I hated school, particularly primary (all that teasing) and tolerated secondary because I had no choice, and detested games – PE, PT – whatever you want to call it. Double games on Wednesday afternoons. The very terms 'games' and 'teams' trickles coldly up my spine to this day. I'm quite bright, but wasn't brilliant at passing exams, failing French three times and English Literature, despite having read Pride and Prejudice three times and hating it more each time (no DVDs back then…that would have helped. And another thing - Jane Austen lived up the road from us in Chawton village, Hampshire, and the road we live in is Bennet Close, named after one of her P&P characters. Bennett is my maiden name and I learned recently that Jane was a cricket fan who had named her character after my ancestor grandfather and uncle who were famed Hampshire cricketers in her time. But she misspelt 'Bennett'. How true all this is I don't know, but it's a great story and I'm sticking to it). All these fascinating snippets aside, how I acquired CSE Grade three maths is beyond me.
Times change, and today my mind's creativity and desire to learn positively bulges and I couldn’t give a dooda-wotsit about past under-achievements. (Today it’s politically correctedly called ‘learning opportunities.’ Pff. )
I’ve recovered from my school’s Pink Floyd Brick in the Wall quashing and it’s easier to say what doesn’t interest me. What makes me leave the room to make tea when the box is on? Not a lot. Wild life. The mating habits of the hairy squat lobster…(oh, I don't know....). Greek and other myths (why do all the Egghead panel love Greek myths?). Poetry that I haven't written and is serious. Astrology. I’m interested and fascinated by so many other things I grow giddy thinking about it. Apart from my major interests - art, wild west, travel and writing, all of which I harp on about (sorry) - my fascinations include medicine past and Unfortunately - and this is where this mind was a pain north of the posterior - my brain, super-sensitive to the point of neurosis (the mere thought of a kitten glistens the eye…) was partial to being tucked up in bed with a nice cup of tea till it felt normal. This ruined ambitions of indulging in any of the above for years. I'm making up for lost time, now.present, space exploration, history of photography, the paranormal, archaeology, architecture, travel, boating, flying, cinema, gardens, social history, collecting curios…*Phew.!*
Renaissance souls were – and possibly still are – frowned upon. ‘Why can’t you settle to just one thing?’ ‘You’re hopeless. You’re a real butterfly.’ Most folk in times gone by may have retained just one or two interests all their lives, but times have changed indeed, and anyone sporting a dozen or more hobbies and interests are often looked upon with envy. Bouncing around from one thing to the other can fill one with spark and enthusiasm. You simply can’t decide. So much fascinates you. Several times over past months I’ve thought: ‘Perhaps I should just stick to two or three things.’ But the idea soon got short shrift and a rude raspberry. I’d find myself in the middle of one thing - writing an article about my fascination for the architecture and history of the humble loo for instance (that's another story) - when the idea of investigating a subject I’d thought I’d forgo would pop into my head and forgoing it would be forgone, prompted by me being totally riveted by a telly programme about how astronauts survive in space.
This Renaissance soul biz can indeed be riveting. This is where ants and octopi (the latter word actually doesn't exist) come in. Nippy and lots of arms. As it is, two arms, two legs and a pathetic runner (told you I didn’t like PE), I’m a mere human. Having said that, old Leo – he of the groovy beard and robes - possessed the same number of limbs, and speed didn’t seem to be his thing either, so how did he managed to do so much? Or Benjamin Franklin, the same? Insatiable curiosity, a craving to learn, a need for variety. That's what it is.
Of course it was all in their minds.