Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with creating a manifesto reflecting wonders, curiosities, and delights currently captivating me – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
D is for…
dabster – an expert; one who is greatly skilled or a master of their profession; a handy person; a dabbler or bungler.
I have a great fondness for auto-antonyms aka contronyms, which are words with multiple meanings, one of which is the reverse of the another. I wonder about them and their history – how did this happen? Oh the irony!
In this case, I like both opposing definitions of dabster, and trust there’s a place for both in our lives.
I believe we should be dabsters in the sense of being masterful at our professions. In my admittedly optimistic world view, we should all be doing what we love, what excites us, what fills us with wonder and joy. And therefore something we can easily and gracefully commit our energies to becoming masterful at.
The act of being masterful though isn’t a quick journey – I believe it requires time and commitment, dedication and study, awareness and reflection, and an ever-expanding understanding of both the guiding rules and the ability to see exceptions, along with the ability to successfully and usefully navigate between them.
Frankly I find it somewhat annoying and incredibly ridiculous that so often in our culture people are encouraged to claim they are experts at things, frequently with very little experience, and often solely as a marketing ploy. With so many people claiming to be experts at so many things, it’s hard to believe our world systems aren’t functioning more flawlessly isn’t it?
Somehow I like the Japanese tradition of naming those they consider real masters as Living National Treasures. I find that concept fabulous and puts being an expert in a context that really acknowledges and celebrates the gift one with mastery bestows with their work.
But I also believe there’s room in everyone’s life for the other definition of dabster – the sense of dabbling and bungling and NOT being expert. There is so much to garner from the beginner’s mind and the actual state where everything you try is wildly experimental and unsuccessful. There’s such an inviting energy of curiosity from this place of what if? What now? Let’s try this and see what happens.
Being a dabster in this sense is a wonderful invitation to explore, and in doing so, to perhaps develop one’s discernment. To decide if you want more of this thing, or less. To learn to make connections about what excites you and can pull you in new directions, and what can be let go of as not of interest. Undoubtedly it’s all good information to have, and when you can approach things from a perspective of dabbling you can do so with a sense of fun. What’s not to like about that?
I have a great fondness for paradox.
One of my spiritual beliefs is that at this time in our evolution what we’re really trying to do is fold everything into wholeness. We’ve come as far as we can with duality, and what is calling us now is the ability to introduce a third point into everything. By that I don’t mean some unsatisfying compromise, a diminished version of both things which satisfies none, but literally something that is new, innovative, and a truly expansive alternative. So I’m always looking for the ANDs and letting go of the either/or.
I wonder what dabster, with its two contrary definitions, has to teach me about wholeness?
I cherish a world that encourages dabsters. May we all pursue to the level of expertise what brings us joy, and may there always also be room to tinker.
So tell me, are you keeping your feet on the joy trail? Are you a dabster in either sense of the word?