As a kid growing up I often heard my father tell me that it’s important to use the right tool for the job. Good advice and you probably can come up with several examples from your own experience when you didn’t have the correct tool. Perhaps using the wrong wrench when you were fixing a bike or your car, the wrong saw when cutting wood, or not using the right shovel when you were gardening. Most of us would end up talking about things – the right fit of a screwdriver, using a Phillips head when that’s what’s needed.
I got to thinking that the “right tools” in life could have a similar spin. But first, maybe we’d need to step back and ask “What project are we doing?” Ah, and that’s when the fun begins.
How about becoming a better human being? Heck, we may as well put the biggie on the table first, like cleaning out the attic, finishing the basement. Time to sit down a have a beer – no sense plunging into things rashly.
So we call out, “Honey (and this is a non-gender ‘honey’), I’m going to need a beer before I can even throw down some sketches on this one.” And you grab a cold one from the refrigerator (or if you’re like me, one not so cold from the basement), smile as the hops hit you in the nose, and mutter, “What the F**K is this about becoming a better human being?”
Sorry, folks, I’m just asking the questions – my mathematical training – we like good questions and this is a good one. Going to get a beer myself… no, I’m not lying… decided on a locally-made hazy ale and snitched some sourdough crunchy pretzels – hard questions deserve a treat!
You may remember that Bacharach song, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” Becoming a better human being could be the answer. Or you could listen to the song or read the lyrics. Here’s some from the top – THANK YOU Burt Freeman Bacharach and Harold Lane David for the lyrics and music:
What’s it all about Alfie
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about
When you sort it out, Alfie
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind?
And I just got two more questions free –I hope I’m not violating any copyright law. Beer and pretzels, pretzels and beer – will do it for me every time!
Good questions always lead to others and sometimes, those questions, point the way to answers. Better human being & the moment we live –that’s an interesting coupling. Being human, I’m going to suggest means NOT living just for the moment. We know that we sacrifice for our kids, wanting them in good schools, to have a better job, clean air, healthy food. We enlist in the military, willing to sacrifice even our life for country. We do know, deep down, it’s better to give than receive. And there are even bumper stickers reminding us: COMMIT RANDOM ACTS of KINDNESS.
‘Nuf said? No, not really. All of this is a start. Because now I’m going to suggest that the real, REAL tools are going out there and soliciting more questions from others, others who don’t look like us or hold similar beliefs. Listen to what they’re saying – Why do black lives matter? Why should we defund the police? Where did COVID 19 come from? Why should we have weapons in homes? Are the vote tallies in Georgia or Pennsylvania legitimate? Plenty of questions to go around.
I’m not suggesting that you’ll find answers, but the growth as human beings is in asking questions and struggling to find those answers. These are the RIGHT TOOLS, asking the questions. It’s a start on a DIY project that’s going to last all our lives and one that’s well worth it. Go for it. Pick up a hammer in one hand to crack those hard nuts and a beer in the other.
And remember to keep an open heart.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.