I think I’m a little more toward your way of thinking.
I had taken piano lessons for years during my childhood… I hadn’t
wanted to learn but my parents had made me.
Because of my childish lack of enthusiasm I am quite the duffer at
piano playing… but on the other hand I still retain perfect pitch
and I understand enough music theory to be able to transpose written
music to a different key. I also understand the correspondence
between pitch and frequency and that understanding had served me
well in my later career as an engineer.
I had tried to take Okinawan karate for a couple years in college. I
can truly appreciate what a master practicioner can do with his
body… and I can clearly see that there is no substitute for the
years of specialized training that it takes to even reach First Dan.
I myself had flunked out of white belt (the lowest) for being so
overweight… put I still remember my basic punches and blocks and
have passed them on to my six year old daughter.
I had a mentor who had been in the Marines… and once upon a time
she had told me that while every Marine is by definition a rifleman
there are very few riflemen who are also snipers… and the level of
proficiency needed to be rated sniper tooks years of supervised
taining to attain.
My opinion is that while book learning and self training are
valuable things they can only take you to the level of tradesman. I
believe there is a different and undefineable quality in results
that comes only from the supervised passing down of skill from one
generation of master to the next… I call it The Masters’ Touch.
Part of the price for attaining The Masters’s Touch in any given
profession is the willingness to spend a significant chunk of your
life, perhaps even the majority of it, staying at the same place and
doing the same thing, watching and learning the skills needed not
just to become a tradesman in a craft but to also attrain true
But the rest of the price of attaining that Touch is the realization
that once the Master says he has nothing more to teach you, you then
incur the obligation to teach whoever seriously and earnestly
approaches you for training.
I am a software designer. I approached the field as both a trade and
a craft as well as a profession. After I finished my basic education
in computer science, I then studied at the feet of several master
engineers, learning how to write clear, readable and error free code
on several platforms, several microprocessors, several operating
systems, for all kinds of applications in science and industry. I
have fifteen years of experience after finishing graduate school,
the which entitles me to have the confidence to declare myself as
having mastery at software design as a trade.
I know have The Master’s Touch at software design. But I have not
worked for 5 years at the field due to issues I had already touched
on in this group long since. But even so my skills remain hardwired
and timeless and when it comes time again to use them they will
At the age of 48 (today is my birthday) I have become too old to
devote a new phase of my life to attaining mastery in another field
because by the time I can accomplish that I will be dead of old
age… and I would still have the same issues in being hired as I do
now… so what is the point?
But I spend perhaps a dozen hours per week in expanding my horizons
and attempting to learn new skills. My hope is to attain at least
the tradesman level in many more skills and to thus combine them to
create unique artifacts and discoveries for which I will possibly be
remembered. That is my motivation for wanting to learn to create
I may never attain The Masters’ Touch as a jeweler. But as I am
barred from working, let alone working in the field I once
considered my life’s work, I hope I can still have some recognition
for at least being willing to learn what I can the short time I have
And so, Mr. Surpin, I would humbly beg of you if I could someday
when my circumstances permit, that I travel to your studio and spend
to be tutored in the very basics of engraving, just enough to
develop a small amount of confidence?
Andrew Jonathan Fine