Being good at things

Being good at things

Summer is full-on here now.

Camp has started. Day campers are going off to camp clean and fresh, if a bit sleepy; they come back smelling of chlorine and quite possibly covered in snack detritus. (There’s absolutely nothing like the smell of a newly unpacked day-camp bag, its wet bathing suits and damp towels cooked in sunlight and marinating inside the rubber lining. You can not smell it for years and be hit with immediate memories if you ever catch of whiff of it again.)

Sleepaway campers are away now, unless they’re going only for the second session, and parents and grandparents get to see pictures. So very many pictures….

Now’s the time when college students do internships, families look forward to vacations, and everything slows down except time; each day lasts forever but the summer itself speeds terrifyingly.

Now’s a good time to appreciate expertise.

Think of the way that the Taylor-Bliss house was moved. (And yes, just about everyone hearing the name for the first time thinks about Taylor Swift — and really, if you’re thinking about expertise, there’s no one more business savvy and all-around accomplished than she is. But I digress.)

I think that just about none of us would have any idea how to drive huge trucks through fairly narrow streets, back into a small space, cut a house — CUT A HOUSE! — into five parts, load it onto those trucks, drive it through those fairly narrow streets, and then reassemble it somewhere else.

I have no idea how someone would develop that expertise, or even think about it as a possibility. I remember being in high school and learning that a student’s father was in the cardboard-box manufacturing business; I remember thinking how brilliant it was to make something that everyone uses, but wondering how anyone possibly could have thought of it in the first place.

So how does anyone think about going into the cutting-houses-loading-them-on-trucks-and-reassembling-them business? There’s no question that it takes creativity — it seems clear that every house to be moved presents a different challenge, given all the differences in setting, terrain, and the house itself that each one would represent.

And there’s no question that things can go terribly wrong. It’s hard not to think about the implosion of the Titan submersible; according to a brilliantly written, hard-to-forget story in the New Yorker by Ben Taub, expertise was jettisoned in favor of speed and a certain kind of elan. (Go through all those annoying safety checks? Why? Use a Sony PlayStation on the Titan? Why not?)

Expertise really does matter, along with openness to uncertainty, and to learning from experience, both your own and other people’s.

We are excited by the new opportunities that moving the Taylor-Bliss house off Kesher’s property, and its rebirth as the Englewood House, present to all the communities each one serves.

And we are so very grateful for the expertise that gave all of us — even those of us who weren’t there in person — the chance to see the house fly into the air, and then land safely, the beneficiary of both art and craft.


read more: