This morning, like the last 10 mornings, I sat in my big comfy reading chair I put in my new favorite spot. The chair’s new spot lets me look out my new french doors – 24 feet of windowed wonderfulness and because I can see both south and east I can watch the sun come up over the trees. It’s a great way to start my morning and today, as I looked at, and out, these windows I have waited 13 years to get, I thought about how in about an hour the contractor’s crew is going to be here to take them out.
They are coming out.
BUT, hopefully, if all goes well, this time they will be back in to stay.
And as I was thinking about them coming out I thought too about something I started saying the more I got into construction,
“Do, undo, redo.”
It just so often seemed to be the way it went with me. Whatever I built, there always was something to change, to fix, to do better. And to do so meant I had to take apart that which I had spent sometimes days doing. At first it hurt, this dismantling process and I felt sorry for myself, like redoing was a unique turmoil saved especially for me. And always one to be super hard on myself, I would assure myself I was lousy at whatever it is I had been doing.
But then, after I got whatever it was apart, made the adjustment and put it back together, which by the way almost always takes about half as long as the original installation, I realized construction is just like this. I also realized just how very much the construction process mirrors the process of life.
Doing something, anything and then stepping back and assessing, seeing how it is wrong, or at least could just be better, and then taking the time to make the change, and just as importantly accepting the change, and even more importantly accepting myself for having to make the change, not because I failed the first time but because I know I can do better. I learned much in that first, not quite right, go around and if I apply that learning to my redo the potential is there to have a finished product I am satisfied with, not to mention, proud to have made. Mistakes and all.
When I realized this, when I realized “do, undo, redo” is not failure, but life, and making change is natural, I stopped beating on myself. I now (sometimes) when the undo is about to begin can even laugh and gently shake my head and say, “Charlotte, you know girl, it’s do, undo, redo.”
So these glorious doors have to be reinstalled. After the initial upset, that knee jerk, “you’ve got to be kidding” reaction, I realized even professional contractors have “do, undo, redo” moments because they too are human.
And what I noted the most, in a time when taking (or not taking) responsibility for mistakes and making sincere apologizes is in the news, was how Scott the contractor, when confronted with the installation problems, offered no excuses other than the stupid human error that attacks us all. He apologized for the problems and said he would do whatever he had to do to right this wrong and would work till I was happy.
So, as I sat in my chair this morning I thought about how construction has given me so much more than bookcases and kitchen cabinets. Construction has taught me a valuable life lesson about how we can’t escape “do, undo, redo.” No. It’s reality and rather than fight it or fear it we just need to go into it. We need to accept it and treat it as natural and be kind to ourselves and to others because of it. And finally, we need to hope, hope with all our heart that we have within ourselves the full measure of effort it takes to make our life redos into masterpieces we can step back from and look at and say proudly, “I did that.”
For my friend David who gave me the knowledge and the courage to go forth with this “redo.”