Star-Trek-based post alert. One of my favourite recurring themes among all Star Treks that I’ve enjoyed so far, is the one of becoming more than you think you are. This usually would occur with the “colder” protagonists of each series: Spock, Data, Odo, Seven of Nine & The Doctor. Each of these characters experience growth beyond what the other characters go through in their story arcs. Spock and Data both deal with emotions in ways they had not experienced earlier in their respective series. Odo physically realizes what it’s like to be a solid being. (He’s a shapeshifter, for the uninitiated of you.) Seven learns to adapt to being a person again after being freed from the Borg. The (holographic) Doctor expands his own program to be more than just a physician. The lot of them all journey — whether intentionally or not — to learn and become more human, as if humanity were the ultimate goal, or at least one worth understanding.
They all do this through doing things that they normally don’t. Learning how to whistle, trying different cuisines, learning how to dance, how to sing, how to play instruments, becoming an author, or a poet, the list is quite extensive. The point is that they go outside of not only their comfort zone, but also their skill sets and roles. They may only be labelled as their duties dictate, but their real selves exist in that growth that they seek and experience.
As a musician and a composer, it’s important for me not to be content with learning only one instrument, or one style or genre. I am a better artist now than I was 10 years ago because of the expansive experiences that I’ve been through. Jazz piano lessons, teaching myself how to play the drums, playing in numerous bands of different genres using different instruments, listening to endless differing movie scores, and watching different performances from different cultures have all expanded me beyond my programming of “just a piano player”. Any artist, really, benefits from being more “worldly” or “well-rounded” simply as an admirer of many facets of their art. Perfect practice makes a perfect performance, but exploration and collaboration makes a better artist.
So while it’s important to master your craft, no matter what it is, it’s just as important to expand your mind to see your craft from different perspectives. Be more than what you do. Be more than who you are. Be the universe experiencing itself. Explore and learn and watch your craft become better and more creative than you ever imagined.