Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sometimes "Can't"s are better than "Can"s

There is a time in everyone’s life at which point they must accept that there are certain things for which they simply were not made to do. In fact, I believe there are several of these moments beginning with obvious realizations such as “I am five feet tall, therefore, I shall never be a basket ball player or be cast as the giant in “Jack and the Bean Stock” unless all of the other actors are under seven.” But later one is led to make less obvious but still not so difficult realizations about their own incapacities such as, “I don’t enjoy mathematics in the least, therefore, I should never be able to support myself in professions such as accounting because I should be far too miserable to continue showing up to the office.’ I think these levels of self assessment are nearly always reached, however, there is a next step which we are not all lucky enough to remember because it requires a much more intentional approach than mere natural observations.

I have been meditating lately on the innumerable things I want. Over the years I’ve acquired an interest in so many different things that it has been very complicated to decide what to do. Each of the things I’m interested in require focused attention to become skilled at them but since I have never been able to narrow this long list of interests down, I have found myself dabbling in any one or several of them at a time without ever really learning one of them well. And so I have arrived at that far more difficult third stage of assessing ones own inabilities and such and so far the result of this period of meditation has been three lists. One list of the things I can do well but do not enjoy at all which can be immediately eliminated from my future, a second list of things I enjoy immensely but simply don’t have enough natural aptitude for, and a third- which is by far the shortest- that lists the handful of things which I both enjoy profoundly and have a sort of intrinsic capability for. (I once knew a friend who called this the “x-factor” referring to a natural gifting or capability). In my mind it makes the most sense to focus my endeavors for the future on these things because I still have boundless room to grow in those few areas.

Strange as it may sound, I have never been so relieved to discover that I am not good enough at so many things at once. It is a good feeling to know one’s own capabilities and limitations even when the limitations are by far the greater majority. And with these limitations in mind, I can at last rule out some options for my future. So the world will be pleased to know that I have officially resigned my hopes of becoming a murderer, scavenger, or taxidermist.

(…just seeing if you would finish reading this… ;)