When I walked into the room, Marty was kneeling on the floor, pushing down on a jar, twisting its cap on. I reached out to hold the jar while he tightened the cap. He’d just finished a day of plumbing my new bathroom. I told him how I’d stripped out three screws that morning trying to hang a silly towel hook in the kitchen. And how I’d ended in frustration, tossing the screwdriver down the cellar stairs. “Well, I threw it, actually,” I admitted, ashamed. “Do you ever get frustrated?” I asked him. “Of course!” he answered. “Yea, but you always find a way. And you always seem to smile!” I countered. “How do you do it?” I mean, he’s a seasoned professional builder for 30 years. A few years ago he re-learned how to do everything with one arm and hand. He can (and does) do anything. So here’s what he told me, and I try to remember these things when I encounter something challenging.
1. Sometimes you just need to walk away for a bit.
2. Think it through. If plan A isn’t working, look at it from a different angle.
3. Be patient with yourself.
But what struck me most was this one:
4. Don’t ever say that this would be easier with two hands. It just doesn’t help.
Sometimes when I’m facing a challenge, I look at what I DON’T have and think how if only I had that husband/money/location/whatever that this would be SO much easier. Poor me. If only. Well, Marty reminded me to just look at what I have to work with right now, and find a way through the problem with that stuff in hand. It’s self-defeating to look at it any other way. I try to remember this wisdom when I face a task that feels bigger than me. I haven’t thrown too many screwdrivers down the cellar stairs lately.