We were at a historical society event recently, chatting with other people who had, for decades, supported the cause of preserving Cambria’s history.
Some friends were kind enough to remember my years spent on the historical society board of directors, saying they appreciate those of us who hung in there to sustain the community’s dream of having a museum maybe, someday, in the old Guthrie-Bianchini property on Center Street.
In that decade-plus process, I discovered a lot about doing such a complex project and, in the process, about myself.
I learned I’m a really good cheerleader and concept planner. But, once the deal is done and the truly hard work begins (in this case, restoration and actually converting the house and garden into a historical museum and incredible botanical display), my skill set reverts to Tinkertoy level. I’m simply not good at doing those things.
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Surprise! I don’t have to be.
I realized the best thing to do then was bow out and hand things over to people who are good at such responsibilities, very good. And, I’m delighted to say, they took over and have done splendidly without me ever since.
Was that discovery humbling? In a way. Was it remarkably freeing to admit that each of us has things we do well, and other things not so well? You bet.
Recently, I’ve also acknowledged other things at which I absolutely do not excel, beyond quantum physics, brain surgery and defusing bombs:
• I am not a hiker. I love our miles of North Coast trails and acres of spectacular open-space scenery. But walk five miles among them, in fields of wildflowers and trails through the weeds? Not me, not the gal whose allergic reactions were so bad, so young, that the doctors removed her tonsils when she was 11 months old. Aaachoooo!
• I’m also not a bicyclist. I grew up within blocks of the Boston Post Road, a major shipping route, so I never had a kiddie bike. My mother forbade bicycling or any sport that could have wheeled me into the path of all those oncoming trucks.
I became an ice skater instead, tucked safely inside a nice skating rink. The only truck I could tangle with there was a Zamboni, not much of a hazard.
(I did ride a bike for a bit when I was in my mid-20s, but that childhood rite of passage didn’t transfer well into adulthood. Learning so late, I never really mastered the balancing act of keeping both me and the bike upright. I spent so much time battling the pull of gravity that I’d forget to go forward.)
• Likewise, I’m not a roller skater, roller blader, skateboarder or surfer. Gliding around on a thin blade was, for me, much easier than doing the same on two or four clunky wheels or an unforgiving slab of wood. And stopping? Well, just try to stop fast on roller skates with the same quick, 45-degree twist of the ankles you use on ice, and — “Amazing, ladies and gentlemen! She gets a 10 for that somersault!”
• I also don’t sing in public, race cars or stand on a glass ledge above the Grand Canyon.
But at the top of my “I don’t do it and that’s OK” list? X-treme sports.
My job provides me with enough adrenaline-charged moments, as I race deadlines and dash off to cover breaking news. I don’t have a yen to risk life and limb to prove to myself that I’m alive.
Just a wimp, that’s me. But I’m a live wimp.
I must lack the DNA needed if one is to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, paraglide down the Swiss Alps, wrestle alligators, nighttime ski, white-water raft, zip line, swim with the sharks or run with the bulls. Nope, not on my vacation plan.
Likewise, I not about to jump off a bridge with a rubber band tied around my waist, drop from a helicopter with skis on my feet, dive off a ledge that’s 1,300 feet above the water or rappel down a sheer cliff.
I’m just not good at those sorts of thing — and you know what? I don’t have to be.