- Replaced the garbage disposal; installed the dishwasher- twice
- Drained several clogged sinks and tubs
- Taken apart the toilet to extract mysterious deposits from Max (a onesie plus a toothbrush); then put it back together
- Painted/Stained numerous surfaces after repairing drywall and retexturing
- Installed several light fixtures
- Repaired appliances and machines
- blah blah blah
Some people seem to be blessed with natural ability to figure these things out, taking things apart and reworking them even from childhood. One time, I vacuumed up something that Matthew loved (and I had deemed "trash"), and he told me a few minutes later that he had rescued it from the belly of the vacuum. I did not believe his 3-year-old story, until I saw said item and he showed me how he had taken apart the vacuum and retrieved it from the bag, afterward putting all back together. Not that this is anything amazing, but I was surely much older when I even thought of opening a vacuum. My own construction/plumbing projects have met largely with frustration and disaster; I just don't think I have the mind to intuitively see how things work and to reconstruct. I lack "the knack".
We were talking about this at a Book Club meeting recently (we sometimes go off subject), and I noted that it is similar in my mind to how some people just don't have an "ear" for music, which I've noticed as their piano teacher. My own musical talents are limited, but I have taught enough beginners to notice when some students can really catch on, most improve after practice, and others struggle. This is not to say that hard work and practicing don't make a difference- I think most people can learn to play the piano if they are diligent practicers. However, for some it takes so much more work that it seems like another endeavor would better suit their time (Like me in the sports department), unless it is something they are determined enough to work hard for and eventually succeed, with patience and perseverance on their part, as well as the teacher's.
Upon further reflection however, I've thought back to the students I've had who are extremely talented, and realized that their talents can sometimes become their downfall. Because they can sightread well, they know they don't have to practice very much and can basically show up to their lessons unprepared. In addition, it is hard for the Artist Within to listen to the Voice of Experience, who might make suggestions about fingering, rhythm, practicing methods, etc. And so ultimately, they don't progress very much, at least not with me. (Admittedly, I'm much more of a note-reader than an improviser/composer.) I guess that's why I've concluded that when it comes down to a contest between talent and hard work, the work ethic wins: even a minimal amount of talent is magnified and as a side benefit, the person is stronger for his efforts, even though it has taken so much more work than for someone with natural ability.