The other day, my car wouldn’t start. I got into the vehicle, la di da, ready to be on my way, and it simply wouldn’t turn on. My husband’s assistant came running, enthusiastic to give me a hand, but he, too, was incapable of getting that purple and green rascal on the road. None of us – my husband, his assistant, or I – knew how to give a tune-up on our own. In the end, my husband hooked up the cables, got the car juiced up, and we took it together to the mechanic. Within five minutes, miracle of miracles, the heart of the problem was ascertained. A little fiddling here and a little fiddling there and a new and battery was installed.
In watching this process, my jaw literally dropped. I was in awe, all too aware that this man had mastered skills of which I was completely ignorant. I felt stupid, untalented, and lazy.
Whenever I see someone able to do something, physical or intellectual, in which I am unschooled, my insecurity buttons get pushed. I begin shaming and blaming myself for not having taken the time to learn to accomplish the task myself, whatever it is: how to bake a cake, how to tend to the garden, how to understand basic laws of astronomy. The list doesn’t end.
The truth is, tasks in the physical world elude me, be they home economics, gardening, carpentry or general handyman skills. I am not a doer in the physical world. The only “doing” I do is intellectual, emotional, and spiritual.
When I don’t have to see the work done in front of me, it’s less vivid and therefore less threatening to my ego. With the actual performance occurring right before my eyes, I was a dumbfounded witness standing uselessly on the sidelines. I began to berate myself, angry that there was so much in life I had failed to learn.
Then I said: “Hold on, Ellie. No one in this world could be savvy in every realm, on every subject.
“The mechanic is a professional. He earned that title. Maybe he has native talent, but he also made it his business to study and perfect his abilities. Just like you, Ellie, got higher education in order to enhance your innate talents as a therapist, the plumber, the gardener, the mechanic, the eye surgeon, all had to learn, and even then, had to try and fail, try and succeed, exercising their knowledge and acquiring true professional expertise.
“There’s no reason to feel bad or inferior,” I realized. “Celebrate the fact that the car was taken to the right person at the right time. Celebrate the fact that when people are taken to you for repairs of an entirely different nature, you are often able to give them what they came for. Hallelujah.”