Crashing Down … Soaring Up

This week Baziel has filled my guest bedroom.  Last week it was Sarah.  She weighs …  not much.  I asked Baziel about his weight.  Converted from kilograms, he’s 187 pounds.

Why, you ask, have I ventured into this heavy topic?  Yesterday morning Baziel asked me to look in his bedroom.  One side of the mattress was almost on the floor.  (Sigh)

It’s been such a challenge to marry an old bed with a new mattress and support structure.  So far in Belgium, I haven’t seen any boxsprings.  Instead there’s a wooden frame below the mattress that looks like Venetian blinds.

As my deflation deepened, suddenly there was a pause … and an inexplicable smile.  The prevailing wisdom in my head is that I don’t do home repairs.  Just not smart enough in that realm of life.

The smile was followed by investigation.  After Baziel and I pulled off the covers, the mattress and the Venetian blinds, what was clear was that one of the corner metal brackets on the bedframe had separated from the wood.  Lying on the floor were three screws that clearly weren’t up for the job. They were so short!

My angst was short-lived. I headed to the kitchen, where I had a bag of metal pieces ready for recycling. And my memory was right! Sitting in the bottom were four huge wood screws, well rusted in time. I had found them in a drawer.

The screws had a Phillips head … and so had my screwdriver. At first they went in easily but then I really had to crank them into the wood. I gave it all I had and then passed the screwdriver to Baziel. He had a little more oomph than me.

After we were finished, the thought came: we did it. Actually it was mostly me who did it. Bruce the Handyman, totally ready to host his own home repair TV show!

So … I have thoughts about me. That’s nice. What if some of them are absolutely inaccurate? And what does that say about my future?

Stay Tuned

Without Skill

I was walking on Bloor Street in Toronto yesterday. My ankle was sore and I was going slow. Just ahead was a woman in a flaming yellow dress, carrying a parasol on this most humid day. Beside her was a boy of 10 or so, on his bike. The sidewalk was heading up for an extended climb and it looked like the boy was matching his mom’s pace. She was taking her time.

The distance between us never narrowed or expanded. There they were, always thirty yards ahead of me. And I wondered: “How is this possible?” How is that young man staying upright? What an immense gift of balance.

Finally they crested the hill and turned down a side street. Gone from my eyes … not from my heart. I felt a sweep of marvel and a generous helping of “less than”. I thought of the unbalanced state on my bicycle ta-pocketa in downtown Vancouver, and the sadness came.

“Bruce, you’re so unskilled, so awkward, so obvious to others.” Then, magically, the arrows withdrew and the response was sure: “Yes, you’re right, and it’s all okay.”

Almost immediately, I was reminiscing about tendon transfer surgery in 2003 and my many weeks on crutches. Stairs were impossible, fatigue was constant, and self-esteem hung by a thread. Again and again … “I can’t do this.”

Another time, I was so weak after some physical debacle that on my return to the gym, when I went to wash my hands, I didn’t have the strength to push the lever on the soap dispenser. (Sigh)

Then there was the meeting at school about a certain visually impaired student. The topic was his computer hardware. As the discussion revved up, I realized I had no idea what my fellow staff members were talking about. Despair descended.


Not being able to do something
Feeling the pain of the deficiency
And yet …
Glimpsing the beauty of being undefended
Cracks opening to receive the light