Make-Do Days

“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”

Chinese Proverb

Sometimes, I try really hard not to be a failure. Other days, I’m not sure that I care all that much.

I tell myself this is normal. And I have a pretty good idea that I am right.

It takes so much energy to care. It takes so much time to give one hundred percent, one hundred percent of the time. It takes so much determination to actually finish what I start.

I often find that when things seem too large, I have a tendency to want to take a nap. Or eat chocolate. Or eat chocolate and then take a nap. (Come to think about it harder, and I realize that those are my tendencies even when things don’t seem too large. Am I noticing a pattern here?)

I used to think that is what happened to the people who built our house.

See, my sweet Music Man and I live in this really old, really neat house. It is a modest two-story home. When I say modest, I mean, well, modest. The downstairs is technically four rooms and the upstairs is technically two rooms. The floors creak sometimes. Depending on the weather, doors stick in their frames or, again dependent on the weather, don’t stay in their frames. Sometimes, when we start on a renovation project, we find that there are three other projects that need to be ‘fixed’ before we can move any further. Our To-Do-On-The-House list seems to get longer and longer. Life gets complicateder and complicateder, and I get tireder and tireder. (Don’t worry, I did that on purpose.)

My guess is that everyone who is alive can understand how overwhelming this task appears, but maybe for different reasons. My ‘really old, really neat house’ might be equal to:

  • financial struggle because of past choices;
  • mental ‘go-tos’ that beat down and break apart positive bridges and thought processes;
  • going back to school as an adult, yet realizing exactly how long it will take now that ‘real life’ has emerged and there are kids to think about, and cars that need gas to run, and a mortgage that has to be paid … oh, and there is this little thing called work that also has to happen simultaneously with student-hood;
  • getting stuck in a dead-end job that sucks the life out of you;
  • health problems because of un-wise choices ten years ago, five years ago, yesterday …;
  • … go ahead, fill in this blank with whatever struggle is going on right now.

Deep down, I REALLY don’t want to be a failure. Deep down, I REALLY want to cross things off my To Do list. Deep down, I REALLY do want to finish the house. Deep down, I REALLY want life to be amazing.

Deep down, I REALLY understand that having an amazing life will not be accidental. I must purposefully, intentionally strive for positive forward movement.

No matter how slow that movement appears to be.

Just this morning my Music Man looked at the door frame that leads from our living room into the bathroom. He said he wished that the people who built that frame had built it the same as all the other doorways in our home, with a thin strip of wood between the wider pieces that gives a little, finished ledge.

Now, you must understand that most everything structural in our house is handmade. A lot of people would consider this to be called ‘custom’. This is true. But it also makes for interesting discoveries of that period in time when people had to learn to make-do with what they had. Our ‘custom’ cabinets lean a little in different directions. Our “custom” plumbing has this strange little combination of ‘plumbing examples through the decades’. And it wasn’t until we had to tear a hole in the wall of our closet to discover where THAT SMELL was coming from, that we discovered where the “custom” fireplace used to be.

We can look at all these “custom” ghetto-like fixes and be discouraged, or we can simply take a lesson.

Make-do doesn’t mean automatic fail.

Make-do means to be resourceful.

Make-do means to use what is there in order to meet a goal, even if what is there is not a thin strip of wood that will make a nice little ledge that matches all the other doors.

Make-do will also often mean a slower movement, but it most certainly doesn’t mean forward movement will stop.

“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”

Helen Keller

Make-do is one tiny push in a series of pushes.

Make-do is a purposeful, intentional step of positive forward movement.

And our really old, really neat house … well, I can picture growing old there with my Music Man, sitting on the porch in our swing, holding his wrinkly old hand and remembering all those crazy, lovely, intentional Make-Do moments.


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