Handy

If she doesn’t find you handsome, at least she should find you handy.

Handy, as an adjective at the intersection of useful and convenient, is a particularly interesting word. Etimologically speaking, and I’m only hypthesizing, comes from the idea of being “close at hand” (Editorial pause. My highbrow dissection of this obvious concept is pure superciliousness.) The best tool in the moment is the one you have, not the one you need.

Being handy also carries a sense or hint of unessential, less critical, or diminutive work. A handyman is not a plumber, a roofer, a mechanic, or a landscaper. He may do the work of all of these, but he isn’t considered the expert when the chips are down or the problem is large.

I am handy. I can install a floor, wire outlets, clean a gutter, and repair a lawn mower or a piece of electronics. I can grow vegetables and I can navigate mountain trails. I can fish, and shoot a firearm. I can properly tape a sprained ankle. I know CPR. I can give a speech on a moment’s notice, and I can improvise. And I am not considered an expert in any of these. 

I once believed a person’s true measure was a positive answer to the following:  If you were transported in time to ancient Rome, medieval Britain, or dynastic China, could you not starve, or better yet, thrive?

Passing impossibly theoretical and truly irrelevant standards does not actually translate into worth, but it is nonetheless a source of pride for me. But what does it mean today or tomorrow?  Some day, I won’t know enough in order to program the thermostat in my future, electronically controlled home. But the knowledge (or at leat confidence) that I am curious enough and intuitive enough to be able to figure it out, is another thing entirely.

But this view is very singular and referential to the “small” of life, and is not the same as being a leader, capable of massive organization, or having the will or ability to effect results through sensible delegation. 

And so, this is where my work lies ahead of me, and so far, I appear to be handy enough in the micro to take on the macro.

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