Own a home, a car, a computer, a phone, a tool, appliance, or gadget of any sort, and you run the inevitable risk of something sometime going wrong.
Humans can be as conscientious as they wish, but the hailstorm will come and damage the roof, or a hurricane, tornado, or fire will tear down what people have spent a lifetime building.
One way or another our possessions wear out or break in spite of our best intentions.
And we must scramble to keep everything repaired and operational.
If we can.
How we handle these failures and losses can make or break us.
Not only fractures of physical possessions, but also fractures of the heart and mind.
On Fridays during the month of October, we will discuss “fractures,” and how to work toward repairing them or living with them “mended” as much as possible.
Let’s begin with two basic guidelines.
Acknowledge things can go wrong. This sounds like a ridiculously simplistic place to start, but when we sail into a new day with good intentions, a well-planned schedule, yesterday’s challenges successfully behind us, we can often be blindsided by things we never saw coming.
You stub your toe on the corner of the footboard of the bed and it sends you to the floor in agony.
You go out to start the car and the “low tire pressure” light comes on.
You get up early to get some work done and get ahead and the internet is out.
And we can’t help feeling pitiful, though we might not admit it.
Life is never going to be perfect, no matter how organized we are.
This is such an important consideration, this premise is included in the “Serenity Prayer,” recommended by Alcoholics Anonymous. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things that cannot be changed.”
Instead of complaining about your sore toe, be grateful you have a bed to sleep in and bump into. Be thankful you had a warning about your tire while you were still in the garage. If you cannot get into the internet, find another task to complete, such as writing a note to someone you love.
It is easy to wear a t-shirt imprinted with this advice, but harder to put it into practice. I often told my children (and still do), “There’s a simple solution to every problem if you stay calm.”
Because if you stay calm, you can think. If you “lose it,” your judgment goes out the window.
Here’s my example.
I have a teal Columbia jacket I love. It is the perfect garment for all kinds of weather. Waterproof. A hood. Zippered pockets. Just the right weight for Florida.
A while back I put some cough drops in one of the pockets.
I wear the jacket to ride my bike in the morning and sometimes the pollen gets the best of me, so I keep cough drops for that purpose.
So I unwrapped three or four, so I wouldn’t have to try to pull the paper off while I was riding.
Somehow…I still don’t know how…one of the cough drops—unwrapped, remember—slipped out of the pocket and into the lining of the jacket. When I found it, I tried six ways to Sunday to get it out. I turned the jacket inside out, looking for the hole where it slipped through. Could not find a hole anywhere.
By now the cough drop was stuck and sticky. And I am obsessive enough, it was making me crazy.
I thought: I will have to make a rip in the seam to get that out and was bemoaning the jacket’s being marred, and how would I sew it back? And where was my seam ripper anyway?
And then it came to me: cough drops are made to melt. That is their purpose and their reason for being on the planet and sold in stores. To melt in your mouth.
If I simply put the jacket in the washing machine, the water would melt the cough drop, the soap would dispense with the stickiness.
I stayed calm and it paid off.
We live in a society which comes unglued at the slightest provocation or inconvenience.
When we’re fractured, we don’t have to stay that way and we certainly don’t need to bewail our bad luck or whine, “Why do things like this always happen to me?”
If we’re going to live, we’re going to have mishaps and make mistakes and have cough drops stuck in our pockets.
Be thankful and be calm.