I have nothing but respect for people who can build stuff.
I’m not much of a builder myself, except perhaps when it comes to building sentences, paragraphs and stories.
Nevertheless, I just completed a construction project of my own and I’m pretty proud of myself. It is by no means pretty, it took me way longer than I thought it would—or wanted it to—and I felt it in every aching joint and muscle in my body for several days afterward. However, it should serve its intended purpose of keeping me toasty this winter.
It certainly gave me a renewed admiration for the skill and talent of those who show up day in and day out, for the beautiful things they construct and for how rapidly they do it.
It makes me wonder how people can belittle others because of what they do for a living.
It puts me in mind of an incident from my university days. I was in a first year physics class for dummies — i.e., geologists, biologists etc. Physics-lite, if you will. Fodder for the likes of Sheldon Cooper.
I’m joking about dummies. There were a lot of very smart people in that class — present company excepted — who needed a foundation in physics, but not the full-blown version.
One of our assignments was to do a presentation for the class on a subject of our choice. There was a young woman who, unfortunately, chose to do something on astrophysics, which just happened to be the professor’s area of expertise.
It was not a good presentation, even from my perspective. She was fresh out of high school, extremely nervous and in over her head for the subject matter.
Even so, I was appalled the professor decided to deride the poor girl, belittling her intellect and tearing apart her thesis in a detailed and vicious manner. She left the room in tears.
It was uncalled for.
I, unlike my erstwhile classmate, was not fresh out of high school; I had entered university as a mature student. I had a wife and two children and had already had a short, but successful, career in sales.
I was a brash, confident and idealistic young man and I boldly approached the professor after class. I told him he had been cruel and the only thing separating him from her was 30 years of experience in astrophysics.
He did not care for my input.
I have, at times, failed miserably at living up to my own idealism. I have had occasion to be impatient, angry, bitter, even mean.
They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. And we are all products of the environments and circumstances in which we have been raised and molded.
We are, in the end, how we have spent our time.
I try to be mindful of that. There are, of course, people who don’t care about the quality of what they do, but for the most part, people are trying to do their best, sometimes under trying circumstances.
As we go about our daily routines, encountering other people, we generally don’t know where they are on the continuum of experience. We don’t know their backgrounds, their traumas, their obstacles.
I was tempted to haul out some old aphorisms here, such as Matthew 7:1 or that famous line from the 1895 Mary T Lathrap poem, but I guess what I am trying to say in the simplest terms is: be kind.