Thursday, August 25, 2011

Something I don't do every day

This past weekend, I went out to my parents' place to help my youngest brother, brother-in-law and father tear out some cabinetry and other items from their kitchen. (My mom likes remodeling houses. A lot. To her credit, she has a good eye for home design; the remodels always look better than what they replace.) Half-day job, for the four of us...I'm happy to help, though I wish I could provide more of it. Fortunately, my brother-in-law enjoys and is very good at this kind of thing, and my youngest brother isn't bad either, and my father, while not inclined to be the next Bob Vila, has owned and dealt with houses long enough that he's picked up some of it by necessity., no. Or not heretofore: as I was saying back in the jambalaya-cooking entry, just because I'm not able to do something now doesn't mean I can't learn if I put my mind to it. All natural aptitude does is speed things up.

That being said, I haven't attempted to cook anything in the six weeks since I cooked the jambalaya, either. Most people tend to gravitate toward things they have natural aptitude for and away from things they don't, and I'm probably worse in that regard than most people. I figure it's that we get hooked on the feeling of success, those rushes you get big and small when things click, and after a while we can't do without it. Gotta have that endorphin release or whatever it is. And our culture sure reinforces that outcome-based thinking: we're sent the message from an early age, over and over, that you're either a gold-medal winner or you're a loser, that nothing's worth doing unless you excel at it in the eyes of the world, that those who win are the only ones who matter. We watch American Idol, but we don't sing to each other anymore for fear we might not sound as good as the people on TV.

But does it have to be that way? No, I don't think it does, and I'm trying to get away from that conditioning. It's okay not to be good at something; there's nothing to be embarrassed about. Just give it a shot anyway. How does anyone learn or grow if they just avoid everything that doesn't come easily?

So back to the kitchen work, it went okay with the four of us on the case. Most of it was unscrewing cabinets from the wall. Whoever put them in years before my parents bought the house had done kind of a shoddy job, and many of the screws were stripped, buried or both, so that was the biggest thing slowing us down. To get the countertops off, we also had to remove a bunch of tile with crowbars and hammers (that was actually sort of fun, if messy). And there were electrical wiring issues to contend with. But we were able to get everything out of there.

What made me happy, aside from the cherished company of my family, was that I lost my composure only once and very mildly. You see, in the past, I've tended to get angry with myself when I invariably struggle with things I haven't learned how to do, especially in the company of others who are much better than me at what I'm doing. Some part of me still thinks I should know how to do everything perfectly and wants to scream at me whenever I don't. It doesn't usually cause me to flat-out lose my temper, but now and then it has, and that actually *is* embarrassing for me, much more so than not being good at whatever. But I'm glad to say the screaming perfectionist in me is getting quieter.

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