I have spent a large portion of my life avoiding major DIY projects on the basis that there really is so much that can go wrong. The moment of realisation usually comes just after the water has been disconnected or a cut has been made in the wrong direction. It really is so much more pleasant to yield these projects to those who have the necessary skills, and who quite inexplicably seem to enjoy that stuff.
Perhaps part of my aversion is that I don’t want any of my failings or shortcomings exposed to anyone’s scrutiny, and in that I know I am not alone. Life, at least for the first forty years seems to consist of constructing and maintaining an image of talent, skill, resourcefulness and calm, that leads the world around us to conclude that we really are OK and fit to take our place in society.
I don’t have to be Einstein to conclude that many reading this will identify with that reflection, while at the same time knowing that the reality in their lives, relationships, finances, decision making, parenting is more wacky races than a Formula One Grand Prix.
We spend so many years not seeing or refusing to see that life is a series of bodge jobs, wrong decisions, mash ups and things we might prefer were not seen by too many. Our reasoning is that good things come to those who deserve them, by being top of the class, being clever, never making a mistake, never having a struggle, never needing help, support or advice in anything.
We forget the wisdom of Thomas Edison, who said “I have never failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work”
Working in the charity sector I know that there is a draw to helping those who by whatever criteria we set, ‘deserve’, help. If we are really honest we often like to help from a position of strength, to give a ‘hand up not a hand out’. The reality of human need doesn’t always make a great charity campaign, and we certainly don’t like feeling that we are all in need in one way or another. We are all beggars telling other beggars where to find bread.
The truth is there is great beauty, comfort, strength and resource found if we can just be honest about the human condition. There is far more beauty found in life that develops through mistakes made, wrong decisions taken, lessons learned, than there is by doing everything by the book.
If we can identify with those we help, rather than seeing them as different or simply recipients of aid. If we can be bold enough to say that there really is very little to separate us, except a turn of events, an accident of birth. We are not cleverer, wiser, stronger, but just more fortunate members of the same family.
We live near Chesterfield, home of the famous twisted spire on the cathedral. Driving past it recently my mind went to the person who designed and built it. It was never supposed to be twisted. From an engineering point of view it was a disaster. I am sure if they lived to see it they would have been embarrassed to be associated with it. They wouldn’t have shared it as a profile picture, an example of their greatest achievement in life. Yet it has been become the hallmark of a city. Something people travel to see. It is famous and it is beautiful.
Hide our weaknesses, cover our failures, portray an image of perfection to make ourselves feel better, but in the end people will celebrate all about us that is real, incomplete, in need of help and support.
One man’s embarrassment really is another man’s tourist attraction.