Looking back on my ancient past, there were a lot of alternatives I could have taken. For example at several points in my childhood I was quite serious about going into puppetry, going into animated film, going into cartooning, and even designing and building models and props for science fiction films. Those were all paths I didn’t take because at other points I considered being a writer, being an astronaut and finally, by high school, deciding that science was what I really wanted. I was very mercurial but at the same time I was lazy, thus I never became some great polymath.
Of course I wound up in product support. There is a great demand for this as so many people can’t be bothered to read the directions. Luckily I have a gift for explaining technical things well and it pays the bills.
There was a time, a bad time about twenty-five years ago, after I flunked out of three years of double majoring in astronomy and physics, when I wished I could travel in time to fix my own mistakes. But I got over that daydream pretty quickly because I realized that, instead fixing my mistakes (Assuming I could even convince myself to change. I was a very stubborn kid.), what I really wanted was to see the manifestations of all my alternative choices. I didn’t want a time machine, what I wanted was alternate histories in parallel universes. In this daydream there would be Earths and a universes where various Paces really did become cartoonists or animators or mathematicians. If I had a machine to somehow travel to these alternate universes just so I could see all the ways my life could have panned out.
I’m pretty sure my current life is pretty squarely in the middle of all those alternatives. For example, I didn’t die painfully and prematurely in an automobile collision, nor did I win the Fields Medal for frightening levels of cleverness. Then there are the alternatives that I’d find very hard to imagine, like Pace, the money grubbing millionaire or Pace, the convenience store robbing drug addict.
So as it is, Pace the somewhat ineffectual, terribly busy, middle aged support technician is not such a bad card to be dealt.
But Pace you ARE a great polymath– I would be fascinated to see my alternatre you joining us on Skype in 14 hours?! ?
Yes, by Ned’s Boots I will be there!
By my definition, polymaths actually become known for all their accomplishments in many fields. Me, I’m just a dabbler. Also I think polymaths need to know at least two languages in addition to their native one. But whatever.