We’re all good at doing something. Either by training, or by natural talent. Some of us are natural born singers, while others learn hard and become skilled in very specific crafts. In time, this ability to do certain things very well develops in such a way that it starts to define us.
And that’s not good. Here’s why.
What you know to do is just a function. You are not a function. Like Chuck Palahniuk said it way better than me (or anyone else, for what matters): “you’re the all singing, all dancing crap of the world”. For context, here’s the entire quote (it’s from the iconic Fight Club movie, about which we don’t talk, obviously):
You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.Fight Club
You are a very complex being, changing and evolving and melting into a different persona every second. You do carry around some patterns that, together, create some sense of identity. Some of these patterns are more inertial than others. They tend to stick around more. But, eventually, they all fade away, along with your physical support, your body.
So, over-identifying yourself with the things you know to perform best is not only inexact, but it’s also dangerous (bear with me just a couple more paragraphs to see exactly how). It literally makes you act like a hammer looking for nails.
Initially, this may feel good. It may even feel empowering, if you’re very good at hitting nails in the head. Not only it gives you a sense of, like I said, identity, but it also provides satisfaction and meaning. Look, I did a thing! And I did it well. But, as you advance in life, you’re slowly starting to be aware that the world is different.
It’s not filled only with hammers.
And the biggest danger of acting like a hammer looking for nails is that, at some point in your life, you may encounter a porcelain vase. Something that is very beautiful, but in a very different way than yours. And here’s where it gets sketchy: should you want to stick around that beautiful thing, you will end up breaking it. Because that’s what you do. You’re a hammer, you hit nails in the head.
The porcelain vase is just sitting there, being beautiful.
And your intersection, should it be based only on the main function you know to perform, will be utterly destructive for the other one.
Sometimes, we need to let go of what we know to do best, and just be. We need to get rid of all the projections we hold about ourselves, and, in a sense, die for a while, renounce the main identity we created for us. Cease to be a hammer for a few days, or weeks, or months. Just exist and allow the world to exist without imposing our main function unto it.
After all, if a hammer just sits near a porcelain vase, nothing wrong will happen. They’re both sharing these moments in life without asking anything from each other.