“This is really HARD! My arm is aching. Why isn’t it perfect yet?”
As expressed by my wife, after I was cajoled into coaching her through a set of chairs she wanted to reconsitute as new. It all looks so easy in those House and Home magazines where the woman is in a very flattering pair of designer overalls without a drop of paint on her. She looks naively happy, and she wears a pair of safety glasses, as if she was out doing hardcore construction in the middle of the road. Have no fear. You won’t put out your eyeballs with a piece of sandpaper.
Truth looms a little closer once you don a pair of gloves and prepare to get some blisters. Truth is mostly found in the middle of error and course-correct. It’s pretty easy to dish out advice while watching someone else up on a ladder. Up close and realtime is where the rubber meets the road.
She needed me to get her all the proper tools, the right grits of sandpaper, the right kind of paint. She needed a bit of advice. “How come the paint goes on all lumpy like that?” It’s because you have to keep the can about a foot away and keep on moving as you spray. Better to build up that coat gradually than all at once. “But the paint is sagging, what am I going to do about those drips?” Well, same thing anybody does. You stop, fix what you did wrong and keep on moving forward. It may take a few tries. Perfect never comes on the first go. Now that is an education for anyone who has made a career of watching, that doing something yourself is not so easy.
Welcome to the world of redos. It is what you fix in process, pulling the world along behind you as you go. It is an unruly step-child it seems. “I think I am going to go for the distressesd look”, said my wife. I want it to look as if it was on purpose. I don’t think I’m ever going to get them perfect, the way I want them to be.”
Welcome also, to the real world of experience. Doing ANYTHING is hard, much harder than thinking about doing it. It is the practical moving forward of life, after all the thinking is done with. Thinking won’t get you far I am afraid. Nothing really moves forward until you get your hands dirty.
She did need more help with some other parts of this. Like how to recreate and replace a broken finial (still not glued, you can see it top right). She couldn’t manage that at all and had to call in someone a bit more seasoned, also known as, husband. It is hard to match the finial, and hard to attach it perfectly, dead centre. I know how by now, but she doesn’t.
“We fixed a chair on the weekend”, she tells a friend on the phone. “We just got done with fixing the family room. It was really hard. We had to tear out the old fireplace and redo the stone. That was messy. Then we built a wall unit. That took a long time.”
Oh, the royal WE. Last time I checked, it was me down in the shop all alone, getting asked why this is all taking so long. How comes so-and-so is not perfect. How come this is like that.
There is only one real answer. It is because life is not perfect. You only get there by degrees of course-correct, once you have done something wrong and have to find a way to move forward. That is about the only reality most human beings share.
You don’t get there with the royal WE however. You only get there once you put on a pair of gloves and start asking for advice instead of dishing it out. It is then that you realize that life can be really, really hard to figure out, that “talent” does not come easily, and any success at all should be really appreciated. Doing anything, you will also come to understand just how many conscious right decisions in a row add up to success, whereas one tiny error along the way will throw everything off track.
I think it was Thomas Edison who said that opportunity is often missed in life because it is dressed up in overalls and looks like hard work. That is something I figured out a long time ago. My wife is late to that game. She thought everything should be easy.
“We” are learning more empathy these days, it seems. That would be you and me, trying to get to perfect. We may settle for the distressed look, yet. It’s not often I get to hand out advice and my wife stands silent, not really knowing what to say. It is true that life’s greatest pleasures unfold in pedestrian moments such as this. Having a paint brush in your own hand, is the greatest leveler of the life’s big playing field.
She wants my opinion. I will try not to be critical. Distressed will work, moving forward.