Monday, November 1, 2010

the meaning of humility

Ok, all of yesterday and today, I've been rearranging and changing my office. My office is an L-shaped landing at the top of the back stairs that looks like this:

l stairs

Maybe 10 x 14 with a staircase taking up a piece of it all.

I've worked, probably 14 hours. It's now finished. I like it a lot.

I would have never done this if bern hadn't told me a few weeks ago: "If you'd let me, I would rearrange your office....."

By blood ran cold. I started sweating. My blood pressure plummeted (stress makes my blood pressure go down) and I felt both faint and disembodied.


(ok, I know I've built my life--my career and personal life--around being the most flexible and change-friendly person you could find. AND I AM....Until it comes to MY OFFICE! MY SPACE! MY LIFE!)

Bern moves and rearranges things endlessly. The table my computer rests on has been in three rooms in our house. There are chairs and end tables and bookshelves that have been in four or five rooms--and we only have eight rooms! Our bed is a futon and it has been in three rooms and once it became our bed it has been in three different places in that room. When I used to go to work and leave bern at home I would steel myself for what changes might greet me when I returned. Now I'm mostly here and when I see that "I want to move s*** around" look on her face--I know that look intimately--I go to the library or the grocery store or a movie and steel myself.....

So, to stop her moving my stuff around, I did it.

I made a list with 17 items that laid out my plan. It involved moving a bookcase within the office, moving a bookcase from outside the office to the office, cleaning out a file cabinet and throwing that away, putting together a table stashed under a guest room bed, moving my computer's printer, restructuring the use of the printer piece of furniture, getting rid of a small desk and a bamboo table that hid the office's air conditioner, moving the air conditioner until next summer, taking down two built in shelves and moving some stuff on the walls.

It sounds like a lot, but this is a 120 square foot area with a stairway taking up 20 square feet of that. How hard could that be???

Friggin' Hard--that's how hard. 14 hours of work hard.

And every step of the way I was reminded how inept I am at anything requiring manual dexterity, the use of tools and brute strength.

Humbling. For 14 hours I was humbled.

(Perhaps that is good for the Soul--but it's a bitch on the Ego.)

Fourteen hours later, after moving some papers and boxes and stuff at least a dozen times just to make room to work in such a small space, after an hour long trip to Hines Hardware store to find the right missing hardware for the table I was assembling (looking through an immensity of little drawers with screws and bolts and a dozen things I don't have names for), after several vacuumings of floor that hasn't seen the light of day because stuff was on it for the last two decades plus (I could move into a furnished apartment and never move the furniture for as long as I was there--I've known Bern to move furniture in a Motel room we'd be in one night...go figure how we've been married 40 years....), after taking books out and putting them back and moving them again, after what seemed like the 6th ring of hell for 14 hours because of my previously mentioned (and humility inspiring) ineptitude for any of what I did for 14 hours, it was finished.

And I love it. I have the table for my computer and a larger table in an L where I can read and do other things without moving my keyboard. And I have two huge bookcases and a small storage case on wheels and stuff on the wall in places it should be and I am a happy camper.

(I had to ask Bern to help me with manual things more than I hoped--like screwing things and assembling things, MANly things I'm no good at). But when I thanked her for helping me, she had the good sense and the knowledge of the depths of my humiliation to say, "I didn't help that much...." Bless her. Maybe it's not amazing we've been married 40 years, as different as we are...)

{I just looked around for a minute or two. My space is more usable and seems larger. Maybe 14 hours isn't as long as it seemed to me. Maybe humiliation is good for the Soul....and the Ego, in an odd way, as well.}

I look upon my work (with Bern's help) and can say: "It is Good".

[Maybe I need a little more humility since I'm quoting Yahweh's observation about Creation....]

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.