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"I guess I want the mystery to persist beyond my intervention …"

Back when I still considered myself a consultant, I promoted myself by saying that I was "an expert at not being an expert." What skill was I hawking? My colleagues held impressive curricula vitae. I did not, yet my colleagues found my presence helpful in spite of or, perhaps, because of my lack of impressive formal orientation. Maybe I'd gained street smarts or perhaps, because of my lack of formal training, I just parsed the same old problems in unique ways. Maybe I was more of an expert than I sensed.

I never managed to codify what I knew or had experienced.
My best selling book insisted in its preface that it would will not tell the reader how to do anything better. I sensed that better, if such a state existed, could most likely not be induced by merely telling another what to do instead. The belief that expertise might be so imparted probably qualifies as Experteazing, a reassuring form of misrepresentation. For the same reason that the instruction manual always fails to describe what to do, expertise reaches less far than one probably hoped it might. The expert has to fake some of it because it turns out that his experience doesn't precisely prepare anyone for this specific instance. It never did. It never could. The expert at not being an expert gets to be more explicit about what he's doing or not doing. Nobody ever becomes expert at discovering. It's new each time.

I search for YouTube videos demonstrating something I'm trying to do. It might be a testament to my inability to pose a coherent search question, but I rarely find any good examples of anyone doing what I'm intending to do. The library of videos demonstrating how to refinish doors seems thin. The ones showing how to work with double hung windows feature so many shadows that I can't quite see what they're doing. Much goes unsaid, perhaps presumed to be unnecessary context everyone already understands. One huge problem with expertise seems to be its inability to see the world in ways to which others can easily relate. Experts take as self-evident what a novice might not even imagine never seeing and so they begin explaining from a different context located in some different universe. Self-helpless HomeMaking videos most often portray such a dizzying array of tools that I find them fundamentally offensive. How about showing how that might be accomplished using the contents of a typical HomeMaker's toolbox: a flat headed screwdriver and a pair of pliers?

My doors and windows speak to me but more importantly, I speak to myself. I mumble a lot and tell myself an unfolding epic. I do not know how my story ends when I begin it. Indeed, it seems more of a continuation than a fresh beginning. I struggle to make coherent sense of it while it unfolds, though I know for certain, or I think I know for certain, that my story's always unfolding, never ending. I am not dictating instructions, but proposing. I cannot know if I'm misleading myself, not until very near each ending, and even then, the outcome might remain in doubt or remain beyond knowing. I stumble away from some tasks no wiser for the experience, uncertain what just happened, experienced without having gained expertise. It's too easy to mistake an experience as representative of others. It's also too easy to mistake a lack of experience as a disqualification. I'm learning.

Learning requires a state of consensual ignorance. My expert at not being an expert acknowledged this unavoidable fact, but who wants to hire an ignorant consultant? It's what one hires regardless. The ones most shamelessly promoting their talents are those who should be most ashamed of themselves, whatever their talents. I do not want flawless execution, I want The Warts And All Special, and by God, I get it! I want the engagement to remain recognizably human and not like a fictional machine might function, not even aspiring in that direction. I want to enter the valley of the shadow of death fearing evil, whomever's with me. I feel a deep need to become even more expert at not being an expert, since that's the skill I sense myself most lacking. I'm learning without earning a professional designation, nor do I want one. I want to be figuring out rather than recalling. I want to not quite remember how it works the next time I encounter it. I guess I want the mystery to persist beyond my intervention, since I figure it probably will anyway.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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