Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ripping 2X4's learning about life

Hey all, hope everyone is doing well and taking care of themselves. Really love this time of year weather wise, day temps in 70's, overnights in 50's. It would be nice to have it this way year round but if it did then I would miss the beauty of 4 seasons worth of change.

I am building a lean-to shed on to my existing shed. The existing shed is fairly small, some things are in plastic totes, and in general it is hard to organize anything for easy access. I priced sheds and large plastic storage units, cheapest I could find was $150.00 and it was only 4ft high by 4ft deep. I thought to hell with that, I can build one cheaper.

The existing shed is a concrete block shed, it serves as a safe haven against tornadoes, remember I live a mobile home. I am building the new one against the existing one. It will be 5ft long by 4ft wide and 6ft high, not huge but big enough for shelving, it will be my tool shed and the other one will be for storage, plus allow room to actually use it for a safe place to go if a tornado is headed my way.

I am not a carpenter. I sucked at shop class in school, the teacher hated me too. It was mandatory in my school that 7th and 8th graders take shop, I found out early on in 7th grade it was going to be a long 2 years. Teacher was a manly man, wrestling coach and I was well, not. I was very non-athletic, anxious, awkward with tools, impatient with getting precise measurements and cuts, I was also bookish and interest in social and semi-intellectual ideals. My lack of shop skills effected my relationship with other boys, in other words I was picked on for not being normal. It was in 7th grade when I started smoking and became more obsessed with alcohol and drugs, hanging out with others who were not socially accepted. Although I was already alcoholic by nature it was at this time I really started to feel the force of peer rejection, it was the build up to using alcohol and drugs as a way to make me "feel normal and fit in". If I couldn't be good at shop or sports then I would be damn good at drinking and partying, when I graduated high school my legacy was one of a hard party-er, music and social issue fanatic.

I built a shed at another place I lived in, I was sober then too. It was my first venture into doing this on my own. The shed wasn't pretty but it served it's purpose.

While cutting (ripping) 2x4's Saturday, I thought about how my building skills have increased and how my outlook has changed. I use to envy people who can use power tools with grace, take a 2x4 and cut it straight without the aid of a sawhorse, make things square with little effort. My dad was one of these. My dad had great mechanical aptitude but lacked the patience to teach me stuff when I was growing up, later in life he mellowed out enough to show me quite a bit, plus I have been blessed to inherit a bit of his aptitude. I have learned a lot by sitting on the side lines and watching my dad and others work, observing how they use tools and procedures to get the desired outcome. I have also learned a lot by trail and error.

I realized Saturday, something I have known all along but have not stopped to reflect on, the people who can do mechanical things with ease have had many years of experience doing these things, for most it didn't come overnight, they made their share of mistakes, it took them many hours of cutting, hammering, drilling and such to be able to do it quickly. I am not good at toe-nailing (nailing a board at an angle) I am having to do a lot of this. When I built my previous shed I used a lot of angle brackets to keep from having to toe-nail, this time around I have figured out how to do it, not perfectly but I am doing it, saves the cost of buying a bunch of brackets, nails and wood screws are a lot cheaper. The pitch on my roof is a lot more precise also because I stopped and thought about how to do it.

This is all similar to recovery and overcoming obstacles from our past which use to hold us back. I have in the past thrown money at a problem because I was afraid to do it myself, my 7th grader self told me I couldn't or, I have just not done something because I know I wasn't capable of doing it. I looked at others with envy, thought I could never do things the way they did, judged myself on how they worked or lived their lives.

I am who I am, I have strengths and weaknesses. I am not another person and shouldn't compare myself to them. All of us have had to live life by trail and error, we have had to make our fair share of mistakes, whether it is building/repairing/refinishing something or trying to live a life in recovery. People with years of recovery have sawing the wood in their lives un-square also. Each time we do something we hopefully get a little bit better at it, we learn from our mistakes, we accept we may not be able to do it perfectly. Each time we do something challenging it hopefully gets a bit easier. Do you remember the first time you chaired a meeting or spoke in front of a group of people? New jobs and relationships are like this also, we make mistakes, we learn and we move on. We may make the same mistakes a few times but if we have a bit of awareness, honesty, opened mindedness and willingness, gradually we stop repeating the same mistakes.

Building the shed is very much like my recovery. I am seeing how to do things which use to baffle me. I am stopping and breathing when frustrated. I am slowing down enough to take the time to figure things out, cut along the line slowly instead fast and crooked. I am doing things within my means instead of looking for a quick fix which I will pay for later. Recovery can't be rushed and neither can spiritual growth. For me it is a slow gradual process, with stops along the way to breath and reflect. If I build another shed it will better than this one because I have learned from my mistakes on this one. As I put another day of sobriety under me, I have hopefully learned something about this day or maybe week which like those with more years have done. I can gradually build my days of sobriety up, one day at a time, just like one cut at a time builds the shed. I look at my work and know it is my own, mine to own, it is not someone else's. I can't live my life on another's recovery, they have trudged their own road, so I need to trudge mine. I can use another's experience to assist me, just like building the shed, this is the beauty of it. I sit back and watch how others do things, ask questions and then try it on my own. I accept my short comings because I am aware others have short comings also. I am not innocent of competitive recovery, wishing I had what others have but a bit at a time I am chipping away at this block to spiritual growth. Things like building a shed are my God's way of helping me understand things I need to reflect on, once again to understand my strengths and weakness and how it effects me on a spiritual level.

This thought occurred to me after I wrote this post. Just because we have the tools doesn't mean we know how to use them! My dad gave me his tools before he died and I have bought some over the years, just because I have these tools doesn't mean I know how to make the best use of them. Recovery gives us plenty of tools to use but we need to learn how to use them. With sponsorship, meetings, mentors and most of all the God of our understand, over time we get better at the use of these tools.

Peace Love and Light to all!!