Thursday, August 17, 2017

"A Possible (Potentially Game-Changing) Re-Thhinking"



In the same league as the discovery of germs, “Natural Selection” and “The Unconscious”, although considerably lower in the standings.

For as long as he could remember, Jimmy had a natural gift for balancing a kidney bean on the end of his nose. 

It came easily to him, right from the beginning.  In his elementary school “Talent Show”, Third-Grader Jimmy won First Prize, defeating a boy who could balance a teaspoon on the end of his chin.  (The unfortunate ”Runner-Up” had suddenly sneezed, his unmoored spoon clanging noisily to the auditorium stage floor.) 

Meanwhile, standing unfazed beside him, Jimmy’s proboscally-borne kidney bean remained visibly – to many onlookers miraculously – unperturbed.   For a full nine minutes and forty-seven seconds!  After which it inevitably fell off, Jimmy’s towering achievement met with thunderous applause and a commemorative Blue Ribbon.

Jimmy’s natural gift made him a popular member of the community – overshadowing his occasionally dark and borderline hostile personality.  Nobody cared.  Known as the incredible “Bean-Balancing Guy”, Jimmy was welcomed appreciatively wherever he went.

Jimmy’s reputation spread far and wide.  No one could recall anyone balancing a kidney bean on the end of his or her nose longer than he could.  Jimmy was the acknowledged, territorial “Champeen.”

As he advanced into adulthood – as all of us must – Jimmy had to face a serious decision concerning his future.  Rejecting the more traditional careers – as they did not involve balancing a kidney bean on the end of his nose, except maybe peripherally – “Not only is he a wonderful accountant, he can do your taxes while balancing a kidney bean on the end of his nose.”  That would not satisfy Jimmy, being an amateur, “bean balancing” celebrity.

Jimmy wanted to balance a kidney bean on the end his nose full-time.

And professionally.

With the “word” in the wind, to nobody who knew him’s surprise, Jimmy was invited to join the company of the “Elites”, in the widely known – and accurately attributed –  “Bean-on-the-End-of-Your-Nose-Balancing Capital of the World”, where Jimmy was readily accepted and, after some preliminary jitters, felt like he comfortably belonged.

And there he remained, balancing kidney beans on the end of his nose with distinction, amongst the recognized “Top Dogs” of the industry.

Yet, despite ostensibly flying high, Jimmy felt vaguely unhappier than he should have.

Because he knew he wasn’t the best. 

Jimmy understood the idea of “Personal Best.”  But, though he got what “Personal Best” was driving at intellectually, the bolstering rationale seemed to be “Brought to you by the folks who gave you ‘Everybody’s A Winner.’”   Through inordinately hard work and endless repetition, Jimmy himself improved his “Personal Best.”  Still, Jimmy’s incremental advances left him naggingly discontent, knowing there were a sliver of competitors who were “Personally Better.”

Despite demonstrable success, Jimmy worryingly wondered,

“How come I’m not the best?”

He considered the possibilities.  He could not believe it was his externally bestowed natural gift that was holding him back.  Natural gifts are perfect.  Aren’t they?  Who would bestow an imperfect natural gift?  (Which, based on the definition of the word “gift”, must be externally conferred rather than internally conceived.)

Would the “Unlabeled External Bestower of Natural Gifts” give an aspiring opera singer “perfect pitch”, except for “B Flat”, which they consistently missed by a mile, even when it was “A Sharp”, depending on the key signature designation?  No.  They got the entire octave.  Even the black notes.

Process of Elimination.

If it was not his externally bestowed natural gift that kept him from maximum accomplishment,

Then it had to be him.

Specifically, his innately pessimistic personality.

It seemed that, deliberately or otherwise, externally gifted Jimmy was sabotaging himself.  

Jimmy sought out professional assistance, to help temper the flaws in his hindering behavior.  But to little detectable avail. 

Jimmy was Jimmy. 

That, in a deal-breaking nutshell, was – and would always be – the inescapable problem. 

And so Jimmy believed, throughout his extended career and into his necessary retirement, the cumulative wear-and-tear robbing the tip of his nose of its earlier resiliency, the balancing kidney beans falling, as never before, to their Newtonian destination.

Besides, nobody was hiring professonal bean balancers anymore.

And there it stood, Jimmy believing for decades that the limitations in his personal limitations had defeated his externally bestowed natural gift, which would otherwise have taken him to the top.

Then one day, while in comfortable retirement, Jimmy’s brain experienced an illuminating epiphany.

“What if it wasn’t me?” Jimmy thought, for the very first time in his life.  “What if, although I dismissed the idea several paragraphs ago, the limiting obstacle was instead my externally bestowed natural gift?”

Jimmy thought long and hard about that, wondering if he had for decades erroneously blamed his perceived “falling short” on his admitted character flaws when the more salient explanation was that, in the context of Olympics gymnastics judges, his externally bestowed natural gift was an impressive “Nine-Point-Seven” but not the Nadia Comaneci-like, glittering “Ten”

“Why have I been defending my natural gift all this time at the expense of my less culpable personal demeanor?” Jimmy curiously wondered, suddenly open to the enormity of his misjudgment.  Jimmy could not figure that out - beyond the obvious “Who wants an imperfect natural gift? – leaving his epiphany inadequately explained, though continuingly intriguing.

“I could easily be mistaken about this”, Jimmy observed.  And he was correct to include that possibility.  New ideas are not necessarily better ideas.  They are simply the most recent ideas.

Still, Jimmy went on,

“It is something to think about.”


2 comments:

Fred from Scarborough said...

This afternoon Jimmy should go out into his back yard, sit in the sun, drink an ice cold beer and think about about how wonderful it is to simply exist.

frank said...

Jimmy and his bean should have moved to Boston.