The Toolkit

When I opened a savings account in college, the bank gave me a Pyrex baking dish and a toolkit.

The dish went into a remote cabinet, never to be seen again. But the toolkit, I decided, needed to be in a location where it could be found. I can’t remember if it lived under the sink or next to my shoe rack. But it was findable.

Which was important. My off-campus apartment was a dilapidated shack held together by spit and chewing gum. While poor in real estate, I was rich in opportunity to use the toolkit.

I hammered floorboards into place, screwed door knobs back on, and on sunny days, used pliers to open the window.

The toolkit was a box of capability: if one tool wasn’t fit for the task, I’d chose or add another. With the contents of that kit, there was little I couldn’t work through. Which bears resemblance to any one of us.

We are a lot of capabilities – patience, assertiveness, flexibility, exploration – wrapped into flesh and bone.

When we feel incapable or frustrated, there’s a chance it’s because we’ve chosen the wrong tool. You wouldn’t use a wrench to butter your toast. Are we using focus when exploration is needed? Or assertiveness when patience is needed?

When the capability we’re using isn’t fit for the task, go back to the toolkit and see if another might be better.

And let’s not put our finest tools – be they guts, courage, self-respect, or beyond – in remote cabinets. Let’s keep our capabilities in findable places.

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