Sep 23, 2013

A human being...

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."  -- RAH, Time Enough For Love

This is likely to be one of those introspective-type posts. Feel free to skip it by if that sort of thing doesn't interest you. Gun content has been at a low lately.

Somewhere along the line, I realized I was slowly ticking off the things on Heinlein's list... and specializing at nothing. It's been a routine for me throughout my life: find a new hobby, interest, etc; learn it well enough to be competent; shelve it as "can-do".

Sometimes this is useful, other times frustrating. I'm not ashamed of any of my skills. There are people out there who are far better writers than I. There are people who are far better photographers. Better shooters (with some overlap to the previously-linked!), better cooks, better healers, better seamstresses, better builders, better farmers, better hunters, better radio operators, better most anything you can name.

And I'm OK with that. No matter how good you are, no matter what level you're working or playing at, there will always be someone, somewhere, somehow, who can and will be better than you. Cassius Clay and Mike Tyson lost bouts. Tiger Woods lost tournaments. Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Hank Aaron, the list goes on and on. They've all lost to someone. Records shatter, streaks break - that's the way of things.

I just need to be "good enough". I think, in general, I am. I can wire and plumb a house. Change my oil or brakes. Butcher a critter. Be field-accurate with a rifle out to several hundred yards. Avoid botulism cultures in the fridge. Handle basic first aid. Fell a tree. (Useful concurrent skill set, there.) Do enough advanced math and physics to get by. Dig and plant a garden. Preserve food. Make cheese. Make bread.

Am I ever going to be another AD, Marko, Roberta, Tam, Jay, Peter, Robert, MrsZ, Pediem, or Brigid?

Of course not! That's them, and I'm me!

Am I envious of their abilities sometimes? Of course. Marko and Peter have people buying their work. Jay has a new gig that's damn near perfect for him. Roberta talks radios in ways that are WAY over my head. Brigid (aside from being a wicked smaht secret squirrel) is a fantastic cook. Pediem can set a bone, then go home and bake a couple dozen cookies that are to die for. I'd love to be able to do the things they do... but they're them. I'm me.

And I'm OK with that.

The latest tick-mark on the skill list? HAM. I'm studying for my Tech and General tests, sitting for them in just under three weeks, and fully expecting to pass both with no trouble. I've got a nice used dual-band (2m/70cm) mobile on the way and will eventually start looking for a HF for the long-distance stuff. If I'm comfortable with the General this week, I'm going to start cramming for Extra - because I might as well have it if I can get it. I might even learn CW - just so I can try it. Something about "talking" halfway around the world with a set that I can stuff in my truck is pretty damn cool.

Stay tuned. (Pun fully intended.)


Bob S. said...

I'm not as far as long checking off boxes but I've always tried to have one or two areas of excellence and many more areas of "good enough".

Of course my 'excellence' is far under par of so many others "good" it would be no comparison but I'm not comparing, I'm learning.

And having fun learning.
And that is enough for me.

Andie said...

I have always *loved* that quote from Heinlein... he is one of the best at putting practical skills into fiction in a way that makes you want to just "do it!"

Good on you for being YOU--and best of luck with the exams. Just means I'll have to get on that ball so I can harass you on the air. ;)

ZerCool said...

Andie, I've been taking practice exams constantly at (registration required, but it's free), and downloaded the Android app "Ham Radio" - also free.

If you have a bare-minimum understanding of physics and electronics theory, the "Tech" test should be a breeze. "General" is a bit more involved.

Wally said...

Is that a Heinlien quote ? I am pretty sure it's from DuToit!


one in every crowd, I know !

Jay G said...

That is MIGHTY fine company you have placed me in.

To say I am humbled is putting it lightly.