Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I'm off my Game:

Most human endeavors require a variety of skills, and the great thing is to use them in their proper balance, rather than to emphasize one at the fatal expense of another.

Take chess for example. A grandmaster spends part of his time visualizing precise positions that may arise in the future, assessing the tactical danger of each. But he or she may spend equal time assessing the strategic value of positions, in order to choose moves that have long-term value. Imagine that you are a chess master, and you are playing an opponent who, as you know, is more tactically skilled than you. You may be tempted to spend more time than usual analyzing tactics against him, and if so, your strategic assessments may suffer. Imagine playing a twenty game match with such a person. Inevitably in the course of the match, you will adjust way from your normal balance of tactics and strategy time. It may be weeks after the match before you have regained your normal equilibrium.

That's the way it has been for me, washing dishes. Our dishwasher died after many years of service. I hardly realized it, but I had developed a typical balance in my dishwashing skills. Now do not imagine, even for a moment, that every dirty dish goes into the the dishwasher. Some will be needed so soon again that they must be washed at once. Others are too delicate or too precious. I had long since fallen into a groove in which some dishes were washed by hand and others queued in the washer. My judgment in determining what to wash by hand resulted in a smooth procession of full dish loads, auto-washed in time to meet our needs.

And then we spent two weeks without a working dishwasher.

I learned to wash everything quickly, so that the sink never piled up to a depressing height. It all went well, I thought.

And then we got a new dishwasher. It's very nice, really. But it doesn't fill up fast enough. That's my fault, of course. I'm washing too many dishes by hand. Too often, I fail to appreciate that a certain dish must go into the dishwasher.

The sure touch I had in the past is lost. I'm off my game.
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