Solving From Within (A life lesson in DIY)

Song Dedication: Life to Fix by The Record Company

The first thing I noticed was the tiny black nut (not the squirrel kind but the machine kind) laying on the cement floor of the garage.  I looked at it and thought Huh? That’s weird. I walked away with indifference and a few days later it was joined with what I could only presume was it’s mate, the bolt.  With closer analysis, a washer also lay lifeless at the side of the garage interior.  I was still fairly unfazed, shrugging my shoulders upon a closer inspection of me crouching and picking up these randomly scattered appearing pieces of metal.  I looked up feeling like the source could only be a few options; the Subaru (hopefully not!), the garage door (also hopefully not), or the wheelchair we borrowed from the hospital to wheel my husband’s broken ass around in only if necessary.  I reunited them in my palm and set them aside for another time when I felt like playing Sherlock Holmes.  The mystery not nearly as enticing as a unsolved murder.

Another day passed and as I was backing out of the driveway to take my son to school, we both noticed the garage door spastically descending to the ground…and to really throw myself under the bus…I didn’t really make a connection! I literally thought shit is really falling apart around here, first Andrew’s achilles tendon, then the random hardware pieces and now the garage door?! After two days of observing the garage door sputter open and closed, dropping to the ground like the chop of a giant guillotine, I had a thought to closer inspect the malfunctioning mechanics.  Everything appeared okay at my minimal level of engineering expertise and I couldn’t find an obvious spot where a bolt was missing so again, with a shrug of complacency I walked away. I endeavoured to employ the Dad card, mentally noting that I should text him to come take a look, being a welder and millwright by trade…I never did ask…

On day three, the problem seemed to worsen with some shaking in addition to the slamming.  As I entered the door to the house inside the garage I stopped to look over my shoulder to see the closure slam shut once again, but this time I saw very clearly what the problem was.  I had previously checked both side tracks but had overlooked the central track that comes directly from the garage door motor mounted to the ceiling.  As it slammed shut for what would be the last time, the metal arm (which was a hinge, in the central track broke in two pieces right at the elbow, watching the second nut, bolt and washer; identical to the previously recovered ones, fall to the ground with a clink.  My initial reaction after a brilliant Ah-ha! as in Ah-ha I caught you! was oh shit now my car is trapped in the garage and I have our son’s Christmas concert in less than an hour!

I knew where the pieces were from but how they exactly need to be positioned was not something in my realm of knowledge.  There were several holes to choose from, which ones did I use to bolt this piece back together?? Envisioning me haphazardly choosing which ones and then watching the garage door fall down, crushing my car beneath it (like closing my eyes and choosing the red or green wire to diffuse the bomb…ya it get’s that real and anxious that fast for me…) Well, after I grabbed the step stool to get a better sightline and futilely trying to put the now separated hinges together into something that made sense I had another moment of clarity.  There is a whole other garage door, intact, right next to this mess, I must use it as my blueprint!

I did just that, referencing what works best, letting go of my rash MacGuyver ways humbly counting to hole 5 and 6 as the key points to refasten the hinge.  I then returned to the step stool feeling rather empowered, using my lady fingers to manually tighten the nuts and bolts back into their rightful position.  As I did this I realized the flaw in my DIY approach, tools Sarah.  You need tools for this job to be done correctly. I grabbed not one but two crescent wrenches, noting the importance of securing the back bolt to screw the front bolt into (do you like my mechanical vernacular?  Impressive as shit I know).

Standing tall on my step stool inside our garage with a wrench in each hand I fixed the shit out of the garage door all by myself but this is not the only thing that fills me with awesomeness and pride.

In that moment, I also found the deep connection of this situation to what has happened in my life over the past year.  I wasn’t able to see the root of the problem from the outside and was overly focussed on the symptom of malfunction.  I needed to get curious, be present and go INSIDE to definitively see what was the cause.  And like so many humans do, we push through when we find a broken seemingly insignificant piece of ourselves lying on the floor.  Sometimes we ignore that first sign, maybe we even throw out the second red flag, but eventually the system is compromised and can no longer support its purpose, turning what use to be smooth and easy and destiny-filled, into a malfunctioning door that slams shut repeatedly, until we pay attention or are so effed that it can’t even perform the job at a passible level any longer.  Once there is a finality in the break down and we are stuck inside, then the real work can happen.  We find the space inside our own body, like my garage, to acknowledge and rebuild from the problems and challenges we are suddenly faced with.

I fixed my garage door all on my own, yet not, because I’ve had the guidance of many people to help me identify and make the decisions I needed to to solve this problem.  I think this is called mastery, when we finally take the knowledge we’ve been imparted and can apply it to various levels and scenarios in our lives.  This was so much more than solving a broken door and for that I am humbled and grateful for this teacher.



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