We aren’t all built the same way. The scaffolding in our minds leads to entirely different worlds, filled with textures and colors as unique as the minds that describe them. I find myself navigating this lesson right now as I face a variety of challenges backed with the ever-increasing pressure of Time. I don’t think Fitz and I can work any faster and, as we try, we run in ever-widening circles fueled by ADD, perfectionism, mis-guided optimism, idealism, lack of funds/direction/energy/knowledge. And we deal with the viciousness of this merry-go-round in different ways; we funnel the insanity beneath our fingertips: calloused, stained, and dirty – through our hearts: clear and ever-earnest – past the most deep-set part of our eyes – and into our minds. The noise pulls us in fractured directions.
Time plays tricks. It bends and sags. It sneaks around and bursts forth, laughing seemingly at us. But Time is a construct. Its pressure is, ironically, self-created. And, as much as we want to open the cafe, we want even more to open our best version of the cafe… because, goodness me, I’m only going to do this once. So it better be good.
As our electrician, Charlie, was leaving tonight… after 8pm… as the sun finally shut into thankless twilight, as the Day officially ended and all good contractors were home to dinner hours earlier… our dedicated electrician spent a few extra minutes with us, shootin’ the shit… as he does. He was talking about studying to get his CSL (construction supervisor’s license). Basically, it’s a lot of building code memorization. He has the perfect mind for it and I was encouraging him to keep going because, as I said to him, I think he’d be fantastic at this. People with CSLs get to oversee job sites and make sure the entire project is done to code. His mind was built for this. He’s incredibly smart – super clear – and remembers minutia others would overlook. …He’s also disastrously messy, has a pension for spending all the money he gets as soon as he receives it, and talks in a dull but constant shout because he’s a bit hard of hearing. Also he’s about 6’5″ and 300 pounds. So there’s a lot to handle. Every way you look at it. Point being – Charlie is a presence to be reckoned with and his mind is as sharp as a tack. So, on the way out the door, he said, “I can’t string a sentence together. Nouns, pronouns, adjectives. Whatever. It’s a mess. I can’t put 2 good words together. But you give me a space shuttle and I could sit there and fix it, no problem.”
And I bet he could.
I couldn’t. You kidding me? I couldn’t make a functional frog wash in seventh grade science class (a lesson in simple machines, on steroids — the lesson, not the machines). My mind simply doesn’t work that way. Charlie’s inability to put together a noun or two, a couple of adjectives, and a good ol’ verb parallels my bumbling attempts to visualize the build out.
We all have our strengths. The trick is recognizing them and being aware of moments in which you are a bit out of your league. However, if I’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that being a bit out of your league is certainly not a bad thing! That added stretch, the risk – the leap – the blind determination it takes to run beyond your comfort zone will most certainly take you beyond your strengths. And that’s scary. And it can be even more than scary… it can wear on you and bring you down. If you spend too long beyond your strengths, you begin to forget what your strengths are – and you start to lose confidence. I think that’s where I slipped the last few days, and it was a complicated and dark place. But then I remembered I can string together the nouns, adjectives and verbs. And that has a place on the space shuttle that Charlie is fixing. It has a place in this build out. I have a place in this build out.
But, if I’m going to continue in this league – running with contractors, visualizing design, building and engineering worlds larger than my own – I better find quiet clarity in my mind because I’m going to need all the strengths I can muster.
… It starts with a lesson in: building bathroom walls.