Oh, there are a hundred things, at least, that I’m kind of good at. I could make a long list…if this were Sunday, and I were making a list. I’m a pretty good artist, a fairly good writer and – especially now when film is not at stake and a person can take a dozen photos of the same scene, with slight variations – a passable photographer. I’m a reasonably good cook and a decent baker. I have middling skills in sewing, embroidery and crochet. I could go on and on.
I wanted – so badly – to be an exceptional mother, but in the end I wasn’t much better than average. I wonder, sometimes, if I had been able to simply concentrate on doing that one thing, and doing it well, if it would have made a difference. If I hadn’t had a crumbling marriage to worry about…if I hadn’t been a student while raising children….if I hadn’t been a working mother…if I hadn’t been trying, at the same time, to be an artist, writer, photographer, cook…might I have done better? Or worse? It could be argued both ways, and it’s impossible to know, or to change anything now.
If I had put all my energy into any one thing…instead of trying everything in the world…maybe I could say I was really good at something! Damn Martha Stewart, anyway, for making me believe a person could excel at everything from wallpapering a room to making a perfect souffle to raising goats…while doing yoga.
So, blame Martha, I tried to be proficient at everything that interested me. I ended up being capable, but not stellar, at most things. Such is my life, a constant quest for improvement. One new skill after another, latched on to and learned, but never quite mastered. One self help book after another.
Until the latest self-help book I picked up gave me something more. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin promised, as many do, to change my life. It has great potential for it, too, with ways and reasons for forming good habits. Little did I know, it would also open my eyes to one area of my life that I am really, really good at.
I was more than halfway through the book. I had taken the tests, written copious notes and put many suggestions into practice. “I may never be really good,” I thought, “but I will be better than before!” Then, I came to the chapter titled “Loophole-Spotting.” A loophole, she explains, “is an argument for why we should be excused from following a good habit.” She then goes on to give out the characteristics of many types of loopholes. There is the “moral licensing” loophole, the “tomorrow” loophole, “lack-of-control” loophole, “arranging to fail” loophole, the “this-doesn’t-count” loophole, the “questionable assumption” loophole, the “concern for others” loophole and, amazingly, several others.
Even more amazing? I’m am proficient at every single one! Who would have thought that in reading a book designed to help me improve myself, I would find the one area in my entire life that I have thoroughly succeeded at?! Turns out, I am a loophole master!