Beauty and the Dose of Adversity

Looking back, on stressful days of building our house, has given me a different prospective on life. It was a time when life felt like a big chess game. Every move I made impacted the next. Often, several small moves had to be made to get to the final goal. And other moves didn’t seem to make any difference at all.

It was a Thursday afternoon. There was nothing significant about the day except our daughter would be coming home for a visit that weekend. She’d been working in the Peace Corps in Guatemala for the past two and a half years.

Progress on the house had come to a complete standstill. And even though the delay was frustrating, I was thankful to get a chance to join my husband at work and take my mind off building the house. My husband and I had worked together for years.  However, “The divide and conquer theory” seemed to be the only way to get our house built in the middle of no place where help was nearly impossible to find. And so, during the day, he kept the business running while I hung Sheetrock, sanded logs, and picked rock to build our fireplace. In the evenings we worked together on the house, until late into the night.

I remember how good it felt, walking across the runway in order to check everything was operating properly and giving pilots correct information to land in bad weather. After fighting the cold blustery winds all morning, we jumped back into our old 1976 airplane. Listening to one of the engines grind slower and slower, we realized, it wasn’t going to start. While my husband toiled over the engine, I did some bloodletting onto this page:

After months of being without the comforts of modern conveniences, there are times when it feels good to just sit alone and cry. Thinking of all that needs to be done before I can sit and do nothing, wears me to a frazzle. But if this house is ever going to be, –I can’t quit.

Things like hardwood floorboards were delivered premature, and yet, here we sit for weeks, waiting for our tile delivery. The first tiles arrived damaged! One of the palettes looked as though it had been dropped. Over forty tiles had been broken. Hoping for a speedy delivery of replacement tiles, is turning out to be nothing more than wishful thinking.

Wish as we may, none of the flooring is going to be laid before our daughter arrives. Rather than standing around the house thinking, how nice it would have been to give her the dream she was expecting, I went to work with my husband and found myself sitting in a cold airplane that wouldn’t start. I learned long ago to view traffic jams, long lines, and delays building the house, as a time to reflect.  –However, that’s easier said than done! So, I’m going to dig out the lunchbox and try to enjoy a quiet lunch with my husband.

–As always, the bad times don’t last forever. My husband got the plane started and we flew home. –It isn’t a perfect house, but it’s what we call home!

Looking back, I realize, these old words are far from dry and meaningless to me. But I do understand the big picture of life much better now. Even though our daughter had mentioned how nice it would be to have a finished bedroom and bathroom to use after living in a very minimalistic lifestyle in the Peace Corps, it wasn’t a bad thing that the house wasn’t done in time for her visit. Things worked out for the better. I had always tried to make everything perfect for my kids. And I guess, I was still trying to be that perfect mom for my daughter. But, we couldn’t produce that wonderfully finished bedroom and bathroom for her. –We did something better! We kept life real.

A trinket from that experience, I may find useful when writing children’s stories, is not to protect young people. Don’t make life look as though things come easily or automatically. Living in an abundance of the latest greatest items won’t bring joy or compassion. On the contrary, grace grows more beautiful with a dose of adversity.

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