Polymaths, Dabblers and Moonsails

Happy New Year, friends.

Are you ready to take it slow?


“…a ship starting, spreading all sails, carrying even her moonsails…”


We had a blizzard last night and this morning I’m looking out on a bright, mounded, blank world and I don’t have the least intention of getting out there and making something of it. I tried that last year and it almost broke me.

Let the beautiful world be the beautiful world in its own form, in its own right. Let the snow have this day untracked. Let the oyster keep its pearl.

Over the past year, I have been learning to paint and draw. Rather, I should say relearning to paint and draw because I did these things all the time when I was a child. They were second nature. I’m not sure at what point they became third nature behind the writing, and then 10th nature, and 34th nature, and finally falling off the scale entirely until I had to rediscover as an adult how much I have missed and love creating visually.

I am not a polymath. But maybe I am the thing that comes before the polymath. The poly-curious. The Dabbler in all things.

It’s so scary to put this work out there, but one of my goals this year is to share more of what I can create with the world. Friends, I’m hoping this is one of your goals, too. I love seeing what you do.

It’s also one of my goals to reacquaint myself with this blog which, I admit, I forgot I started. I’ll spare you the emoji face with the big eyes, but that’s the face I’m making right now.

Last year, somebody called me a polymath… oh, if only!

It is a great compliment, and it is not true. I do not have great learning in numerous varied subjects. I can’t read music. I don’t know the names of Jupiter’s moons. I can’t point to Kuala Lumpur on a map. For the love of all that is holy, don’t ask me to multiply and divide fractions. If you can do this, the throne is truly your inheritance.

I am not a polymath. But maybe I am the thing that comes before the polymath. The poly-curious. The Dabbler in all things. For no good reason, I read two books last year about dinosaurs. I like saying the names: Amygdalodon! Harpymimus! Muttaburrasaurus!

I researched the benefits of doing headstands and have gotten so-so good at executing them. I’m learning how to pickle Japanese eggs. I have an app on my phone that showed me what the star constellation for Psyche is. I actually watched the World Series this year. But I couldn’t tell you who won.

This morning, I came across moonsails. It’s from Walt Whitman’s “The Ship Starting:”

Lo, the unbounded sea,
On it’s breast a ship starting, spreading all sails, carrying even her moonsails,
The pennant is flying aloft as she speeds she speeds so stately––below emulous waves press forward,
They surround the ship with shining curving motions and foam.

Since I have no idea what a moonsail is, and also since I’m a poly-curious Dabbler, I looked it up.

The moonsail, according to google, is “the moonraker, also known as a moonsail, hope-in-heaven, or hopesail, is a square sail flown immediately above a skysail on the royal masts of a square rigged sailing ship.”

Moonsail. Hope-in-heaven. Hopesail. Oh, yes please! Let us journey forth! Let us raise anything and everything named Hope before the wind this year.

Ok, 2020. Let’s see what you got.

One Comment on “Polymaths, Dabblers and Moonsails

  1. I love this post. It shone a lovely light on the first day of 2020, and there it is – I wrote the new date. I wish for new things, and I hope for beauty and strength to keep the wind in my sails.


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