KNOW THY SELF……. Inscribed in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece


A guru tells me, “To know who you are, look at what you’re doing.”

It sounded reasonable, so what the heck?……What am I doing?

I feel like a typical guy, a Master of the Universe, pursuing his destiny of grandeur. And what is the greatness I pursue this morning?

I’m reprogramming the remote for the pesky garage door opener. Not much grandeur there. While working up on the ladder, I’m wondering how the blinking reset button LED is going to reveal the secrets of who I am?

It sounds like a stretch, but then again I don’t want to go up against Socrates or the guru.

So I try to work with the concept. What’s going down here?

At the moment, I’m Mr. Garage Door Fixit, fulfilling a role my wife thinks too gender-specific for her taste. She considers dirty/mechanical things frustrating and bewildering. Compared to me, she lives in a world of perfection: Every challenge earns her an A+ or comes out 100%. If not she tosses it into the “Honey Do” Mr. Fixit basket. In her bubble, she only does flawless: The perfectly set dinner table, exquisite coiffed hair, and fingernails not only clean but shaped, colored, and gorgeous.

My bubble can’t handle perfection. Seeking flawlessness is an excuse to do nothing. Because I don’t live in that world, I grab the remote, head out to the garage and start pushing buttons till something happens. Invariably I screw it up, lights start blinking and the whole apparatus is a hopeless mess. Contrary to what you might expect, this is good! Now I have something to work with. If I had read the voluminous direction booklet beforehand, it would have created confusion. It would have been words, words, words and no action. Instruction manuals are the adversary of take charge macho.

In the beginning, it’s better to set the manual aside till the parts are in disarray all over the floor and the project is a disaster. At that point, faced with calamity, the value of the manual is revealed as the essential source of knowledge that it really is. The manual can now lead you out of the quagmire and show how to complete the job.

If the guru is correct and “I am what I do”, where does this leave me? A bull in a china shop? An enemy of perfection? Does this reveal that I’m a misguided and wrongheaded guy? Is it time to abandon all hope and call the professional overhead door man?

No, that’s out of the question. It would invalidate my self image. It would be like facing the question “Who am I?” and answering “Nobody”

One day later.

The garage door is working flawlessly, and without a professional overhead door man. In the end, my wife pored over the door manual, memorized the relevant paragraphs and joined me in the garage. I stood up on the ladder hammering away at the buttons, the receiver and motor. Today the parts are all synchronized and working with precision. Problem solved.

Who am I? A happily married partner, without much grandeur but a guy who finds solutions to a pesky problem….and has an A+ wife.

Categories: Humor

2 replies

  1. Oh how I know this dilemma. My dear wifemate seems to come from a family where manuals are sacred to the extent that they must never be opened. “Gary, what is this funny light on the dash?” “Did you read the owner’s manual section on dash lights?” “Of course not, I don’t have time for that!” “OK, that is the check engine light, did you look in the owner’s manual to see what might cause that to come on?” Blank stare from her. “Have you gotten fuel lately?” “Yes, yesterday.” “Are you sure your tightened the gas cap securely afterward?” “What does that have to do with a check engine light?” “If you had read the owner’s manual you would know….” And by now I realize that this is a losing proposition. I tighten the gas cap and the light goes out. Then a couple of days later her dad is changing the oil in his new riding lawn mower and manages to break off the plastic guard on the crankcase. “I’m not sure you should have been prying that off with a screwdriver, it looks like it is a simple push-pull thing, did you read the owner’s manual first?” “Uh……” And so it goes. I don’t want to even come close to describing what happens when anyone in that family gets a new computer. Of course today’s devices come with an owner’s manual the size of an encyclopedia. Kind of like reading the entire agreement before loading a new app. Waste of time, just check “I agree” and move on.

  2. Barclay,

    Amusing and so true. My A+ wife is an engineer. Good at adding to my list, but also helping me solve problems! You have the same, I see!

    Jim James M. Sharpe 15 Historical Way, Canton, Massachusetts 02021 USA 781-828-8291(H) 617-901-0982(M) 617-334-7042(F)

    On Thu, May 9, 2019 at 9:52 AM wrote:

    > barclayhenderson posted: ” A guru tells me, “To know who you are, look at > what you’re doing.” It sounded reasonable, so what the heck?……What am I > doing? I feel like a typical guy, a Master of the Universe, pursuing his > destiny of grandeur. And what is the greatness I pursue” >

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