When I read this quote, I think of Bustache.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
― Albert Einstein
You see, Bustache is the most awesome vehicle ever… when you’re talking about him in the context of camping or road tripping or living.
But if you’re talking about racing? Bustache is not your guy. Mountain climbing? Nope. Boating? Not that either. The key to Bustache’s greatness? Using him as he was meant to be used.
I love living with Steve. It’s so cool when you are old enough to live with your best friend. It’s like having a sleepover every night where you get to stay up as late as you want, solve all your disagreements with rock, paper, scissors and eat all the frozen-yoghurt you can stomach.
But even when they’re your best friend, living with another person can pose certain challenges. One of our particular issues we refer to as the “Firework Phenomenon.”
It turns out, Steve hates repetitive tasks. Do you know what most people call these? Chores. They call them, chores. So, in other words, Steve hates doing chores.
Over the years, I’ve gotten pretty compulsive about building chores into my everyday schedule. I do half of them in the morning, and then right when I get home from work. That way, after I’m done, I can sit and enjoy the rest of my night.
I’ll admit, my propensity to “just get them done” probably has something to do with Steve’s lack of motivation to do them himself. So, we’ve had a lot of conversations about this – trying to equitably split our daily task list.
This is usually when the phenomenon occurs. Steve will start doing some chores here and there. But after each completed task, he makes sure I know about it. And then he expects affirmation. It’s like he shoots off fireworks signaling to me that it’s time to act like I’m in awe of his work.
At first, this was kind of annoying. I usually complete all the chores listed above before I head to work each morning and never say a word about it. It seemed unfair/excessive to shower accolades for a one time accomplishment that I did pretty much everyday.
But you know what? Relationships are about compromise, and it’s also about capitalizing on each others strengths. Steve is really good at projects – like replacing the screen door or installing Westi’s doggie door or hanging the curtains properly. These are the kind of things I find overwhelming. I hate taking the time to do things I expect to “just be there” or “just work.”
This reality was apparent last week when I pulled out the vacuum, and it broke halfway through my cleaning.
I literally dropped to my knees in frustration and loudly whined, “Oh great. The vacuum is broken. We’re going to have to live in this dirt forever!” (I wish I could say I was exaggerating, but I’m not…).
“Why don’t we just fix it?” Steve asked.
“Because then we have to take the vacuum apart, find the broken piece, drive to the store, look for a replacement, come back home and install it! And we haven’t even eaten dinner yet!” I shot-back. (Side-note: I get especially grumpy when I’m hungry. Steve likes to call it being “hangry.” I’m working on it…).
“Uh. Huh.” Steve calmly acknowledged. “So, let’s do it.”
And off he went, happily headed to the store to resolve our seemingly humungous catastrophe.
45 minutes later we had a working vacuum. It was a miracle.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I said to Steve.
“It’s not a big deal.” He shrugged and walked off. No fireworks. No need for congratulations. It was just all in a days work.
If I had made all that effort, I would have been running down the street making sure my neighbors knew the vacuum and I squared off, and I won! Fireworks? It would have been the entire Disneyland pyrotechnics show.
That’s when I realized something. Steve does all the projects I hate without any need for recognition. He’s good at them… he takes the time to assess the situation, figure out what needs to be done, and then he does it the right way. I like getting stuff done without having to think about it too much. I find comfort in repetition, and I’m great at schedules.
It’s not that I won’t ever do any projects or, Steve, any chores. It’s just that now I feel a little more willing to appreciate, maybe even look forward to, the fireworks. I mean, if a fish did climb a tree or if Bustache magically became a seaworthy vessel, they’d deserve a little recognition, don’t you think?
So, here’s to appreciating the genius in everyone and being “in awe” a little more often! :-(D