Sunday, August 13, 2017

Instruction Manuals

I'm vacuuming today.

Yesterday, my friend and her toddler came over to help me install a ceiling fan, because earlier this week the fan above my head decided the globe was ripe and dropped it right on me as I slept.

Knowing my limitations regarding electrical work and my lack of necessary limbs to both lift and unscrew simultaneously, I called in backup. Two tiny women in their thirties and a toddler.

(God help us).

We watched a YouTube instructional video, which was a bit disconcerting. Nearly a quarter of a million people have viewed it, but it does not give success rates, nor are there helpful Yelp reviews. The man started with “I had my home wired specifically...” and then I glazed over.


We tried. We successfully removed parts A-T from the box, found the instruction manual, and were flummoxed by step one, which referred to an essential part that was not included. Fastidious women that we are, we dutiful unpacked, unwound, counted and inventoried, naming each part as we went. I secretly missed the useless yet comforting image of the man with the pencil behind his ear, ala Ikea manuals.

Step one – find a man with a pencil.

(I'm pretty good at THAT step one).

Without the easy first step, and without the essential part that was excluded from my purchase, we gave up, packing up most of the things back in the box and shoving them underneath the guest bed.

This is what I do when an unmanageable problem surfaces in my life – first, call in backup. Second, give it the College Try. Third, shove it under something, and pave over the emotions of failure with cheese, chocolate, or conversation. Wait for rain, the cavalry, or the apocalypse, whichever comes first.

The fan was a bust, but the day wasn't. Because instead of spending a few hours with a very confusing instruction manual, and 20 different parts to assemble (some of which are not included, a conversation I intend to have with Mr. Lowe himself), we sat on the couch and watched the full joy of the experience of destroying styrofoam packaging, through the eyes of a child.

And today, I got to vacuum all of the tiny wispy bits of styrofoam that remain. The static cling of them ensured I put in due effort, and I was grateful. As has been taught to me, be grateful of the dishes you must wash, as it means you have both dishes and meals. Be grateful for the laundry you need to fold, as it means you have plenty to wear.

Be grateful for the flotsam left in the wake of a joyful toddler, as it means your life has been touched by friends and by God – her infinite wisdom that the joy of the thing was not the point of the thing.
That the fan will wait for another day, but that this moment is precious and sacred, and would otherwise be missed if we always kept things tidy and followed the Rules.

I am grateful for the wisdom of the child who shepherded my sanity on this day.

Who kept me walking in the light.

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