Context, It Seems, Does Matter
Imagine, if you will, that you and I are standing in my backyard. We are tossing a football back and forth. Eventually, this simple game of catch ceases to suffice and we begin to challenge one another to make increasingly difficult tosses.
“I bet you can’t toss it through the tire swing!”
“I bet you can’t throw it to me over the house!”
“I bet you can’t squeeze it unimpeded through those tree branches!”
“I get you can’t hit me in the hands if I hold them still!”
Yet with each challenge you toss my way, I meet it with aplomb. Zip! Zip! Zip! I fire pass after pass into the tightest of spaces and complete each one.
You’d probably be impressed, yes? I know I would be were I to witness you demonstrate such a feat.
Yet if you transfer us from the backyard to my bedroom… and replace the football with my 8-month-old son… and instead of threading the needle on a pass to a waiting receiver I instead toss my son onto the bed so that he splits the pillows* perfectly and lands head first into the headboard… suddenly I’m some sort of imbecile.
It doesn’t seem fair. Troy Aikman** made millions with a preternatural ability to throw things accurately. Yet my demonstration of the same skill earned me little more than another baby book to read.
* An impressive and frustrating three levels of pillows. Impressive because, well, I threaded the needle through three levels of pillows! Frustrating because, well, I have three levels of pillows on my bed… only one of which I’m actually allowed to rest my head upon.
** I don’t know that Aikman was necessarily the most accurate thrower ever, but I once heard it said that he could throw a football back into its box. I thought that was one of the cooler ways to describe the act, so I’m going with him here.