Monday, July 9, 2012

Now You Tell Me


I'm over talking with the neighbors. I live in a great neighborhood filled with families who have young kids and/or dogs. Everyone is friendly and we all just get along. It's great.

I'm also having our kitchen ceiling replaced and the walls painted. I'm tell two of the guys about that. This is where things become challenging.

I notice that they can't figure out why I'm not doing the work myself. One guy is doing a massive landscaping project in which he is repurposing old concrete chunks to make a beautiful set of low walled gardens on his hillside. The other is talking about how he's getting set to overhaul his upstairs bathroom. Both are guys who can't get enough of working with tools or of work itself.

I'm a guy who can't get enough of writing or reading while other people remodel my kitchen. 

So I mention to them how I once went through four carbide blades trying to cut just a couple of tiles in our bathroom. I tell this story because I can't believe how hard the tile is in our bathroom.

Turns out that the tile isn't all that hard. They tell me that I was supposed to keep the blade wet. I know immediately that they're right. Of course. But at the time the thought never occurred. I try to laugh off my ignorance. "Now you tell me!" I say, smiling. One of them asks, "how could you not know that?" Then he pats me on the back and says, "you kill me, man."

I slink off to get Chinese takeout.

Driving, I realize that I'm feeling junior high all over again. People know things that should be obvious to me. People can do things easily that I can't. I'm feeling judged and lacking. I feel stupid and foolish.

Three blocks down the road I start compensating. I try to think of things I'm better at, but can't think of one. This puts me into worse mood and drags me farther from myself.

At a red light I shake my head hard and tell myself that the only foolishness is this line of thinking.

So I didn't think to wet a blade when I was cutting tile. What did it cost me other than a few blades, some confusion, and today's embarrassment? And so what if someone else does my kitchen? We can afford it because we have been saving. I couldn't do the work well enough and for the rest of the time I lived in this house I would see only the mistakes.

I'm not sure if the guys were being mean. Probably not. Either way, I don't have to buy invest much energy thinking about it. I was right to smile and made a joke: now you tell me! There are things others do better at than I do. There are better runners, writers, teachers, husbands, and fathers. There are people handier with tools than I am. I need to be okay with that.

Yesterday I ran in a race with 13,000 other runners. I didn't run against them. I ran with them. I didn't win or lose. I ran and it was good.

I'll go back across the street tomorrow and chat about the progress on our kitchen. I'll try not to get wrapped up in myself and all the things that don't really matter. If I remember what is important, then life is good. If I forget, I guess I'll figure things out again when I write on.