Versatility (March 18)

 

“Time is a versatile performer. It flies, marches on, heals all wounds, runs out and will tell” (Franklin P. Jones).

VERSATILITY HAS TO DO WITH “TURNING.” The “verso” of a piece of paper, for example, is the “reverse” side: you have to “turn” the page over to see it. So a versatile person is one who is able to “turn” in more than one direction. He or she can do a variety of things competently and serve others in more than one capacity.

Usefulness is a worthy aim in life. Our relationships should be more than serviceable and utilitarian, of course, but they should certainly not be any less. It’s a simple fact that there is work to be done in the world, and we need to equip ourselves to do some of it. We are not merely passengers or consumers of that which others produce — we are responsible for doing a certain amount of the work ourselves.

If you’ve ventured out into the world lately, you will have noticed that there is a complex array of different things that need to be done. The world is not a simple place anymore, if it ever was. The needs that have to be filled and the problems that have to be solved are extremely varied. And even in our own individual lives, the issues that challenge us are demanding in many different directions. So we have to be able to “turn.” To live effectively, we have to be versatile.

But more important, if we want to help others with their needs, we’re going to need some versatility. Life is not about selfish indulgence; it’s about service, and the more varied our capabilities are, the more kinds of service we can render. Yes, we do need to specialize, but there is no reason we can’t have more than one specialty!

Last, but not least, when we acquire a healthy measure of versatility, we make ourselves more interesting to our friends and loved ones. And we should want to be interesting and enjoyable to others — not for our sake but for theirs. We should want to offer ourselves as individuals who are not “flat” but have some “texture” to our lives: some variation and variety. When we work on our versatility, we give a pleasant gift to those who have to deal with us from day to day.

“A man so various, that he seem’d to be
Not one, but all mankind’s epitome;
. . . in the course of one revolving moon,
Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon.
(John Dryden)

Gary Henry – WordPoints.com