It’s a familiar road for many. Who am I? What is my purpose? Why do I feel this need for something more? I do have great purpose in my roles as a husband and a father, but I’m referring to vocation. What’s my calling? I have a deep rooted unrelenting desire to know the answer to that question. I’ve been searching for many years, and I just couldn’t seem to find what is quite plain to everyone else around me.
If you ask most people who even know me a little, “Who’s Jim Papanek?” You are likely to get a common response. “He’s the guitar guy” or perhaps something about teaching. I’ve been called “The guitar man” and other such nicknames for many years. I am an ordinary average guy who has a knack for playing the guitar. I’ve forgotten that many times during life’s pursuits. I believe that this is how I was uniquely created to make an impact on others, even if it is a single soul: by playing the guitar.
When I was close to the end of eighth grade, the question would come to my classmates and I. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” That’s a question that can be quite difficult, especially to someone who has little knowledge of the realities of life. If you are that age, I don’t think it’s essential to know the answer that young BTW. You also don’t have to grow up. I like to say, “I don’t mind getting older, but I refuse to grow up.” As an awkward thirteen year old, I did happen to stumble upon this simple answer to that question: a head-banging guitarist. That was my dream. It changed somewhere along the way a bit though. If I had to give a reason, it would be fear. Fear of failure and ultimately of embracing who I was meant to be. Being a guitar player isn’t just limited to performing. Of course you know that I am a teacher, and I also find great joy in composing. These activities take me to another world just like a good book or movie.
I’ve been a dreamer all my life. When I was a little kid, my parents and teachers were baffled that I was so seemingly disinterested in most things. “He didn’t even like to color” my mom would say. The truth was that I had lots of things going on inside my head. There was a constant movie being scripted in my imagination, and still is today. I am always envisioning, conceiving, and creating. A lot of times these thoughts are kept private. I have ideas from as early as high school that I have buried deep down like lost treasures. I always hope to dig them up some day, but something always holds me back. First, I have more ideas than I can actually produce. Sometimes it is necessary to make the difficult choice of abandoning a project - that’s just life. Secondly, it goes back to the fear. Could those old works of art really be any good? After all, I was just a young kid who really didn’t know what he was doing. These are the damaging nuggets of doubt that get in the way. There are two quotes from Pablo Picaso that stand out to me. “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” He also said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
Many people (especially musicians) love to quote a line from a certain movie. “These (amps) go to eleven” is the one everybody seems to be hooked on. From that same movie came the question, “If you could not play rock ’n’ roll, what would you do?” The lead singer answered, “I’d be a full-time dreamer.” That is the one that always resonated with me. In this series of blog articles prepare to become acquainted with a full-time dreamer.
Like any head banging guitarist worth his mettle, I welcome feedback.