Talents and Non-Talents
What are you good at? What are you terrible at?
Hi Zan, Hi Pa
November 25th, 2023
We hope all of you who celebrated had a wonderful Thanksgiving! One thing we’re thankful for this year is you, our faithful readers.
HI, ZAN: It’s interesting to me how abilities are distributed among the human population. There may be occasional shortages in certain places at certain times, but we never seem to have a world with no doctors, no researchers, no artists, no pilots, no chefs. I feel like each person is given particular talents or attributes, ranging from a sunny personality or a strong back to a genius for high-level mathematics. Along with those gifts, we all have things we’re really not good at. Let’s talk about what you and I are not good at, first, and then get into a wider discussion and see where it goes, okay?
HI, PA: Absolutely—our diverse talents as human beings are what weave the fabric of society! I think about that often, especially when I come across something I’m terrible at.
It even came up today, actually, when we did an experiment at the afterschool program where I volunteer. The teacher leading the experiment had the kids dye a cup of water with food coloring and then add droplets of the dyed water to a cup of baby oil. While the kids oohed and ahhed over the colorful result (the drops of water stay intact and create a lava-lamp-like effect), the teacher explained the science behind why oil and water don’t mix. I have to admit that it was hard for me to wrap my mind around more than the very basics of the science. I could describe to you in a dozen ways what the experiment looked like and felt like, but I couldn’t for the life of me explain what was going on in scientific terms. My mind just doesn’t work that way. But I’m sure glad there are those who do see the world broken down into numbers and elements and reactions!
Other things I’m terrible at? Sewing and knitting and anything else with intricate details that require very precise movements. Any activity that involves going fast downhill. Video games, hair styling and makeup, yoga poses that require even a modicum of flexibility. And the worst one, the one I share with you, the failure of mine that gets me the most riled up and affects my life in the biggest way: my terrible sense of direction.
I have no real grasp on my orientation in space—I have gotten lost going from a hotel room to the elevator, or looking for my car in a parking lot. Maybe it’s a genetic trait passed down among Italians all the way from Christopher Columbus? All I know is, if the world were made up of people just like me, no expedition would ever find its target and there would probably be no traffic because everyone would be wandering far from the way they’re actually supposed to be going.
What about you, Pa? I forgive you for passing down your terrible sense of direction, by the way…