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February 19th, 2021
How is it that we don’t all become masters of walking? We all walk around plenty, and yet we stub toes, trip, and sprain ankles, despite decades of practices. You’d think after that much time we’d be as deft and light footed as a panther stalking prey. And yet we seem to rise to a mediocre plateau on a range of common skills and simply coast at that level of ability.
Another simple example is making the bed. There is certainly a skill to launching the sheet out over the bed and having it settle perfectly square, and yet, this is remarkably difficult since that pillow of air beneath often makes the sheet slide to a side. Like walking, we can try for years to get this stupid little trick just right without much improvement.
Every skill, no matter the level has these sorts of plateaus, and not just one. As we strive for continued improvement, we are constantly beset by a new plateau of ability until some new detail reveals itself that can be exploited, hacked for benefit and incorporated. Inevitably, though, we just his another plateau.
The odd thing is that many tasks and skills common to nearly everyone have small hacks that people occasionally figure out, but for whatever reason such knowledge doesn’t seem to ignite widespread adoption.
Folding clothes for example. Most people have to do this, and many are even aware there are faster more efficient ways of doing it, and yet, we stick with what we know, despite that knowledge resting on a mediocre plateau.
The trick for making the bed is similar to the folded shirt. The key is to fold the sheet in half, so the foot and the head of the sheet are held in hand. The same sort of maneuver to wave it out over the bed is next, but the key is to let go of the head of the sheet just before the height of this movement while keeping hold of the foot all the while. A few tries and it’s quite an elegant piece of dexterous magic to watch the head of the sheet launch out perfectly over the bed and settle.
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