I rarely do this but this morning I lied to myself. I thought, “I’m just going to lay here for another minute.” I woke up 40 minute later and had a moment of being furious with myself. Seconds later, I experienced a wonderful epiphany:
“Oh wait – it doesn’t matter.”
Skipped the shower. Got out the door. Used washer fluid to defrost the windshield and drank room temperature coffee on the way to the office. Half asleep – do the routine – make coffee – faucet won’t shut off…huh…turn knob harder…
Knob comes off in hand… Huh…
I’d have bet money that water couldn’t erupt that forcefully out of a bathroom sink.
Looked for a shut off valve under the sink. Got my shower in the process. Drenched head to toe. No shut off valve. What to do? I did what I always do when things are fucked up:
I called my wife…
cuz you know…she knows stuff…
My wife is an infinitely reasonable woman who for reasons not fully understood by me enjoys being married to a ridiculous man. She’s never bored… Every day is an adventure of what crazy shit I’ll do next.
Wife calls our amazing contractor (Matt Hartt of HCS Enterprises is among the best in Maine). Contractor is smart – does not call me but rather calls our admin assistant who is infinitely better than I at lots of things. She shares colorful profanities that make me laugh, goes bravely outside her job description, into the dark basement, locates water main, and gathers mop.
I am standing in my office completely soaked. Wife offers dry clothing. I notice that only my staff have to be subjected to me this morning and I decline while laughing.
There was a time when this shit would have stressed me out. There was a time when I would have felt humiliated that I don’t know how to locate water mains. There were a lot of times in which I had a lot of reasons to feel bad.
Now I don’t. Not many. Not often and never for more than a few minutes.
I learned how to let shit go…which is a delightfully weird thing. I’d long heard the sentiment, “Let go and let God” which sounds nice but it took a lot for me to understand how to actually do that.
In a nutshell, I forgave myself in exactly the way I forgive people I love. (Take responsibility, be accountable, apologize as a means of releasing regret and implicitly promise to not repeat the mistake). This yields closure and the opportunity to: Let. That. Shit. Go.
I found that I have a long history of holding resentments against myself as a means of self control. I reasoned that staying mad at me for my transgressions was a safeguard against repeating them.
Turns out that’s bullshit. I developed far more self control through self acceptance than I could ever have through being overly critical of me. I learned to be fair and I choose to use the Golden Rule in reverse: I treat me as I treat others.
My friend Ardis taught me that “happiness is a choice.” For as clichéd as that may sound it’s a profound truth deeper than most things in life.
Perspective is everything – it really is all in how you look at it. For most of my life I looked at myself critically. I had mile high expectations. I was relentless. And for what? At the end of the day it always could have been better which meant never quite feeling good enough.
If a friend told me a story of having the faucet come off in his hand I’d laugh and empathize and urge him to lighten up. So that’s what I’m doing. All I have to do is keep it that simple and everything works.
And I get to laugh a lot.