When I was younger, maybe eight or so years old, I wanted to be a taxi driver. Currently, I am not a taxi driver, so according to my Eight-Year-Old Self, I am a monumental failure. But there a couple things we all come to learn about our Eight-Year-Old Selves: 1) They’re pretty ignorant, but 2) they have everything so right.
Even if I had become a taxi driver today, would that have made me any less human? No, of course not, and my Eight-Year-Old Self knew that. I would be getting people to their desired location, serving a function, perhaps imparting some arbitrary knowledge along the way, building relationships, however temporary, and my Eight-Year-Old Self would’ve thought: “It doesn’t get any goddamn cooler than this.”
What we all come to realize, though, is that our “careers” come to define us. A taxi driver, however noble, simply doesn’t sit in the same social strata as some schlub who runs a Fortune 500 company. It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s the world we live in. A hot dog vendor will not have the same opportunities as a pharmaceutical executive; a librarian’s circumstances are vastly different from an oil tycoon’s; and so on.
What puts us all on the same level–a level that goes beyond race, money, and other barriers–are the liberal arts. Communication, the appreciation of music, trying to discern what is right and what is wrong. They are the components that make us human. They, not 401(k)s or the New York Stock Exchange, are the foundational underpinnings that make us happy and who we are. They make a taxi driver no different than a company executive.
This venture, The Liberal Artist, hopefully will stir imagination, produce debate and discussion, enhance knowledge and ignite all cylinders of our critical thinking skills. There are a plethora of incredible things going on in this world–from coconut-powered islands to aesthetically overwhelming libraries. It’s time we, as a culture, listened more to our Eight-Year-Old Selves and take comfort in the fact that it doesn’t matter if we’re a bank teller, a cellist, or a taxi driver. We are all, at heart, liberal artists sharing the world. Now let’s make it better.