What is more desirable than skills or mad skills which would be the hyperactivated version of an ordinary, utility-grade skill? A friend's recent e-mail about being adrift in a sea of downsizing and the question of where to go, how to market one's self and the very real doubt about whether the job you are trying so hard to win is one you could even imagine getting up in the morning and going to, reminded me of a favorite quote (paraphrased and unattributed), which says, "Not everything that counts in life can be counted."
Quite a few years ago, a shift in circumstances turned my life from one of end-to-end activity - family, job, volunteer work, freelancing, 12-step meetings, workshops, interning - to one of simply being. In that state of being, I realized that I had what I call a capacity for stillness. I can spend time with myself without distraction and have discovered that useful information, perhaps it is guidance, comes to me in this state. It is, for me, an essential skill, yet how likely is it that we'll find it on a list of desirable qualifications for any job? Unless you know of a place that is hiring contemplatives.
Is it our skills, learned processes for accomplishing tasks, or our essential nature that we need to recognize as the gift we bring to any situation? Yes, I wish I'd gone to trade school and learned how to repair cars. Yes, I would like to be brilliant with a computer, rather than occasionally lucky. Yes, I'm glad I learned to type when I was an adolescent, glad I had the experience of learning something about video taping and editing, back in the old analog days, glad I learned to drive a car, glad that once upon a time I could edit a story while reading it backward in metal type. Skills matter. But so do the odd, unclassifiable, arcane and quirky talents we bring with us. Think of us all as "...strange visitors from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men." A soaring imagination, a gift for remembering the smallest bit of information, a (some might call) peculiar sense of humor, being able to know how ingredients will taste when combined in a recipe, intuition, a capacity for stillness.
In honor of all who, at this moment, are looking for a job, a better job, or to discover their life's calling, regardless of age, I offer this: bring the best of you, your authentic self, the desires of your heart, and the knowledge that no test or interview is a measure of who you are, never has been, never will be. Celebrate all your mad skills.