last night, my dad came over and was talking with me and my brother. the conversation quickly turned to my dad’s new truck, and stuff he saw at the hardware store, and the two of them got to talking about all kinds of mechanical-speak, so much stuff that I genuinely don’t know what to rattle off without repeating the same thing twice. It’s all about ten feet over my head, to be quite honest.

My dad’s really good at stuff like that. He’s been an electrician for a big chunk of his life, knows a ton about cars, knows a ton about building things, knows a ton about fixing things. My brother is largely the same way – if there’s anything even remotely broken, he wants to try and fix it. It’s taken me years (as the youngest sibling, slightly mistrusting of my older ones) to realize that he’s not doing it to get a leg up on me – but because he (and my dad) are just genuinely interested in fixing things. They get a kick out of seeing an end result. I’ve never had a mind for that sort of thing. I’m usually the type to let things be mildly broken (see: my car; which I guess is technically quite broken) and see how far I can get and then spend a little more money than probably necessary to get a new one, or just live with it for a while (see: my current financial plan.)

To be honest, I’ve fought myself for a really long time about my mechanically-uninclined mind. I feel bad because my dad is so into that sort of stuff, and he’s really kind and just wants to teach me…it’s just that my mind doesn’t really cling on to that sort of information. (I mean…my mind doesn’t really cling on a much information at all, it kind of washes in and out.)

What I’m realizing, though, is that everyone has a brain that works differently, that has a different trigger, that has a different focus. It’s part natural wiring, part down to our interests, and part down to our experiences. I’m sitting in a coffee shop, and I’m looking around and I see a billion things that a billion people could think about differently:

-The photos on the wall: one person wonders, “where was that taken?” another, “what kind of lens did they use?” another, “how did they choose to lay them out in that sequence?” another, “I bet they had to do [insert photography tactic here] to get [insert photography term here.]” another, “wow, that’s so beautiful!”

-The menu: one person wonders, “I wonder why they decided on that font.” another, “what’s an espresso tonic?” another, “I wonder where they got that board?” another, “I wonder how much their coffee must cost to have to charge that price…or what’s their margin on that?” Another, “coffee!”

-The tables: “what kind of wood is that?” “This must have been difficult to craft. I wonder how long it took.” “That’s a really neat finish.” “These are kind of wobbly.”

Seriously, think about it…there are so many things to think about: how they set up the nitro cold brew; where the coffee comes from; what that guy over there is reading; what that couple is talking about; what’s that I smell baking?; who made the handlettering on the sandwich board?; how they rigged up the lighting; what this building is zoned; where they got those sweet jars for their tea; what the workflow must be like; how they treat their customers; on and on. And this is just in a coffee shop.

There are so many things people can be tuned into in other contexts…the beauty is how differently we all think. Mechanics think differently than writers who think differently than politicians who think differently than accountants who think differently than chefs who think differently than musicians who think differently than lawyers, etc. etc. and so on. What makes this so wonderful is that we all need each other – to put it in Myers-Briggs terms, Es need Is (and vice versa,) Ss need Ns (and vice versa,) Ts need Fs (and vice versa,) and Js need Ps (and vice versa.)

If we were all meant to be entirely self-sufficient, then we would be, and we’d never need families, we’d never need friends, we’d never need communities, we’d never need anything. The things that happened in our own heads would suffice for books, movies, music, and art; the skills we possessed would be responsible for our housing, transportation, and financial management; the philosophies we held would constitute our self-governance, our security and self-defense, and our theology.

but we aren’t. So we need each other. I, a writer and people-person, a reader and musician, definitely need people who think like I do (they make my heart sing and make me feel understood and accompanied,) but I also need people who think more concretely, because unlike Alexander Hamilton, I cannot write my way out of anything/everything. I can’t write myself a new car. I can’t sing money into existence to pay off debt. I can’t sit around and think and build myself a place to live.

The question is not whether or not we are able to take care of ourselves by ourselves, but how we use (or how we let God use) our constitution, our skill sets, interests, etc to help others. Never ask, “am I accepted the way I am?” the answer is an indisputable, undeniable, unchangeable, “yes.” The question is, “how do I, with my habits and hangups, interests and abilities, make the world a more whole, complete, healed place?” Whatever the answer to that question is – that’s what you are to do.

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