Things We Never Get
If a life in pursuit of excellence is a life well spent, then the well-spent life should be easy to come by. Everyone has things they want to get good at. Everyone has something they are already good at, but could stand to get better. As long as you are trying to learn things you don’t know, or refine the skills you already have, then you are probably not wasting your life. At least not completely.
Part of life is pursuing excellence, but that doesn’t mean we can all be excellent at everything and anything. Certain things come to us easily. Some people are good at math or are musical prodigies. Other things might be difficult, but you can still improve if you practice, like drawing or archery. Some of us are more talented than others. There are people out there who seem to be naturally good at everything. Then again, everyone has something they just never get, no matter how talented they are or how hard they try. Like tying knots.
Theoretically I know how to tie knots, but the truth is that I can’t. Not very well, anyway. Throughout my life, on camping trips and other adventures, I have tried to get better at knot-tying. I have read books and watched videos and practiced until my fingers bled, but can never seem to get it. It has been a source of frustration and mild embarrassment. Maybe my brain is too stupid, or maybe my fingers are too stupid, or both. Whatever my problem is, it has led me to use the phrase, “like tying knots,” to describe anything I should be able to get, but just don’t.
There are a few things I have encountered that are like tying knots. Certain yo-yo tricks, and juggling any more than three balls at a time. Beyond circus tricks, there are other things I just can’t wrap my head around. Things like economics. Try as I might, I will never have a confident understanding of what exactly the stock market really is. I will never be good at parallel parking, and I will never understand why anyone would want to drive an RV across the country. These are all things I think I should understand, but for whatever reason I just don’t.
Yes, we should all pursue excellence, but when should you cut your losses? When do you call it quits? Is it really worth practicing when you know you probably won’t improve? Is it worth trying to understand something you know you just can’t fathom? When do you embrace your limitations, and accept that there are certain things you are just never going to get?
When you are trying to tie knots at what point does it cease to be the pursuit of excellence, and start to be a complete waste of time? Besides, just because I can’t tie knots doesn’t mean anyone else has to know about it.