I Want to Hit a Note Nobodys Heard Before

I saw this movie recently called Young Man with a Horn. Kirk Douglas has one thing he does really well. One thing. He’s a brilliant trumpet player, it’s all he ever wanted to do, it’s all he can do. Doris Day is in love with him, but he’s not in love with her, even though she does only one thing well too, she sings. Instead he falls in love with Lauren Becall, who has no particular thing. She’s intelligent and cynical, she’s good at so many things, but therefore not very good at any particular thing. On their first meeting, Lauren leans over her chair, gazes at Doris Day on the stage, and says, “She’s uncomplicated. I bet she always knows what door she’s going to go through in the morning.”

Not only do I never know what door I’m going through, I actively resist going through the same one twice. What’s it like to have one thing? One thing you’re really passionate about, and not six or seven things? A Jack of All Trades is master of none. On days when I’m feeling left out or under-appreciated, I think about what I would do if I wanted to try something else. And I realize I don’t even know how to define my role anymore. What exactly am I these days? I wish I knew what it was like to be a trumpet player.

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