There are so many areas of life where I assume that I am powerless. Sometimes I just have to call an expert, if I’m going to get on with my day.
One of my sons thinks differently. In fact, he feels that if he can’t figure it out himself then he will have failed to learn anything useful from the challenge being presented.
I suspect there is a happy middle ground between self-reliance and a willingness to accept the help of others; between developing the gumption to grapple with problems directly oneself and being open to the broader knowledge that comes from collaboration.
Some of us may recognize in ourselves a tendency to work in collaborative groups. Others may feel that they are at their best when they set forth on a road less travelled. Since I am a person who sees in cooperation a reprieve from isolation, I am somewhat familiar with both the dangers and benefits of calling upon others for help.
Along with the benefits that come from working together with others–whose interests and skills extend our own capacities–I suspect that when I assume I lack some specialized skill (needed to fix a blocked drain or work with the new Windows 8), I am reinforcing a view that our world is unresponsive, inflexible, and unforgiving of amateurs.
These speculations came up recently when, after pulling the plug, a sink full of dishwater went down a bit and then just sat there. Overnight the water seeped through whatever was impeding its flow further down in the labyrinth of intersecting pipes, but the next morning, the same thing happened. The water ran down the drain for a moment; then stopped flowing.
Armed with memories of my prior failed attempts to unblock a drain, I was about to call a plumber. But my wife found a home remedy on-line, involving boiling water, vinegar and baking soda, and we gave it a try.
Twenty minutes later, after running the water which we hoped would now rush straight to the nearest ocean, the same thing happened. Our home remedy hadn’t changed a thing.
I then showed up with a plunger from the bathroom, which had last been used to plunge a clogged toilet bowl, but my wife objected. So, uncertain what to do next, I stood gazing at the water that continued to stand in both sinks.
Then suddenly, as I watched, the water started flowing and quickly vanished into the bowels of the underground realms below.
I still don’t know what to make of this. I know I will continue to call experts to intervene when I don’t know what to do and don’t care to spend my remaining years educating myself in order to find out.
I guess Time was working in Spaces hidden from me. But what was Knowledge doing? It certainly wasn’t my expertize that prevailed.
Was this a message that I should be willing to trust the openness of the present to resources hidden in the future? Could it be that I don’t have to solve every problem right now or feel anxious if I can’t?
About the infinite possibilities that reside in an unknown future, perhaps Little Bo Peep put it best. Sometimes you can just:
Leave them alone
And they’ll come home
Wagging their tails behind them.