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 macho.
In the beginning, it’s better to set the manual aside till the parts are in disarray 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 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.