Everybody has to have one essay written on the back of an envelope, and this is mine. Actually it’s old print-outs of real estate listings from back when we printed things out. Yesterday’s essay was missing two things: an ending that made sense and a picture. By the time I had to wrap things up I was typing with my eyes closed, which is something you can do if you took typing in high school. I used to say my typing class, which was off the beaten path for a college prep student back then, was the most useful class I took in preparation for college.
In any case, practical matters to me. I like to do things with my hands, and even though I can spout off and babble with aplomb, there has to be a usefulness to it. Really cerebral people can think circles around me. My task today was to take pictures chronicling a momentous project out here at camp. I posted a picture of the bubble in the roofline of this long, crazy building in a previous post, on the day Jim and my partner first talked about the doing the project. Jim said it’s doable, and today was D-Day.
When I arrived, two of Jim’s three sons were crawling around the roof like monkeys, stapling 19-foot sheets of metal into place. I’d missed them knocking down the old chimney, which Jim had estimated weighed close to 2,000 pounds, as in, a ton. It made an impressive pile on a tarp in the driveway. Jim and his youngest son, Joe, were busy positioning supports, knocking out posts, and digging out crooked concrete footings, quietly consulting with each other and my partner the whole time. This was not your standard construction scene with a radio blaring, guys belching, and debris flying. Father and sons asked each other for help with “please” and followed up with “thank you.” They wore their tunes on their arms. They all piled into Jim’s 250 and went somewhere to have lunch together, leaving us to re-group and rest, too.
I got lots of good pictures. The camp’s buckle slowly relaxed down to something like level, and lots of stuff got taken out and consigned to the appropriate pile, trash or recycling, wood or metal. A new issue became apparent, though, with the buckle resolved, and that was a dip in the roofline to the left of it. Negotiations commenced, strategies were discussed and agreed on, and pretty soon more dirt was flying, more cement was being excavated, new supports were put into place, old supports were relieved of their burdens.
Sometime in mid-afternoon it was time for a doggie walk. (And by the way, Honey-Bear’s spirits have been great since the Downtown Extravaganza, and she’s bounding all over the place, even though she still stumbles and doesn’t make it sometimes.) So off we trotted, leaving, at last glance, my partner digging around and under an old behemoth of a concrete footing that was jutting out of the ground at an unlikely (but actual) angle. Bearing in mind her history working under camps around big ol’ ornery rocks, I tossed out a remark over my shoulder: “Play safe!”
What happened next is best left for another essay, but I’ll just let you know that I didn’t panic, everybody lived, injuries were minimal, and the folks in the E.R. were great, especially Amy, the P.A. who did the stitching! But this is the appropriate place to tell you what I left out of the last post that would have wrapped things up much nicer then, and that is that I seem to have gained a new skill, the skill of flipping my focus from what’s wrong to what’s right, and not just thinking it as a mental exercise, but experiencing it in the heart.
Joy is, after all, a heart thing, isn’t it? That’s one thing even the dictionary didn’t say. But that is where pleasure, satisfaction, delight, and even relish originate. (Well, maybe not relish….) That’s where I feel it, and that feeling is what I’m looking for when it’s missing. So how does that journey take place, from thinking myself into insecurity and dissatisfaction to feeling in my heart that I am fulfilled and there is enough? I don’t know how, but I do know that it can be the journey of a lifetime. And I know that after you make it once, the going gets a little easier. It did today.
So, how? It feels like what might be called grace, or a blessing, and maybe all my obsessing about joy has actually been a form of prayer.
Which reminds me: Let’s talk about spirituality sometime, okay?