He figured out how to use all three legs, and for awhile was a sideshow performer, wowing audiences with his ability to play with a soccer ball, kicking it with one foot while walking with the other two.
By all accounts he had an imperfect but pretty decent life, got married and had kids, and lived into his late seventies.
I was blessed with two functioning hands. From an early age it was clear that I had been blessed with a high level of dexterity. I've been fortunate in that I've been able to earn a living with my hands, as a bicycle mechanic and as a musician.
Being blessed with great facility has made me stubbornly independent, often to a fault.
I admit it, and I own it.
Do I want to change it?
I don't know. By now, I'm not sure my attempt to change this personality quirk would be successful; and honestly, what would be the point?
My two good hands have gotten me pretty far, at times because of, and other times in spite of, whatever other resources were available at the time.
When I look at my hands, I note that they are now the exact same size and shape as my mother's, another blessing, and a sweet reminder of which parent I inherited my dexterity from.
When I was twelve, I blew up a pot in the kitchen. I had tried to boil water and forgot about it. Th pot had a small hole burned in the bottom, the lid had banged against the ceiling and left a dent in the sheetrock, and smoke left a big black spot up there as well.
My mother was furious; this was the fourth or fifth pot I had destroyed in this manner, and between the black spot on the ceiling ("Dammit, we won't get our deposit back now!") and the destroyed pot ("OH NO! My Farberware!") I was chased out of the kitchen and ordered not to return even to make a peanut butter sandwich. Humiliated, I cried in my room, until my father came in and calmed me down. He took a pad and pen from my desk, and suggested we make a list of all the things I knew how to do. When it was done, we had filled three sheets of notebook paper.
"Darling," he said, "Let the world cook for you. You won't starve."
And yet, there are things I cannot do with only my two good hands.
I have to ask for expertise and assistance from others for all sorts of things that I don't know how to do.
And that is the beauty of life. We are given gifts, things we're astonishingly good at; and at the same time we don't get to be experts at everything because asking for help is part of the point.
It is hard, damned hard, to ask for help sometimes. This is especially so in America, where individuals are exhorted to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But that vision of independence is false. Even the people who settled the farm and ranch lands of the West needed help, and they helped each other. None of them would have survived if they'd had to go it alone.
So here I am with my two good hands, and a heart full of humility at what I'm getting ready to do.
I'm fiercely independent about my vision.
But I need help from others to realize it.
It's a balancing act, a duality we all have to deal with throughout our lives.
Independence and interdependence go hand in hand.
Where does your fiercest independence lie? Where do you need the most help?
And stay tuned.