Thursday, March 15, 2012

Brokenness Versus Fixedness

Frustration Abounds When Things Break
and I Start to Break, Too

Sometimes things are too broken, beyond fixing.
Most broken things can be fixed.
It's the intervening frustration that is so hard to get past.
Brokenness I have done far too often. Fixedness evades me in many respects. The past month was a bonanza of brokenness—not so much spiritual but material—yet I found over those four weeks that when material things break in abundance, my spirit also suffers.
That suffering is a result of frustration. If I tear a fingernail, I get out the clippers and snip it. Brokenness gone—in an instant. When I drop a plate and it shatters into a thousand shards, I toss it in the trash—brokenness again is gone, not so much in an instant, but after sweeping and vacuuming to assuage my compulsion to remove the threat of every splinter of glass from bare feet and fragile fingers, I forget the plate. When broken things can be fixed, I get out my duct tape, Elmer’s Glue, wood and regular, stapes, screwdrivers, hammers, nails, and fix what I can.

Some things are hard to fix and cause extreme frustration
in the process of fixing them.
But the effort pays off.

Frustration ensues when I cannot fix what is broken and when broken-things lists get longer and longer. The past month included the following:
·      Telephone and TV service not working
·      Garage door stopped working
·      No scan options error message on the computer
·      Computer mouse stopped scrolling
·      Trackpad purchased to replace the mouse did not scroll
·      Glitches occurred in software
·      Front window screen sliced
·      Cell phone that was supposed to ship from Florida never arrived—from      China
·      Amaryllis plants showed no sign of blooming this year
Television is a low priority for me, but my son likes it and I watch an occasional program. However, the TV service I signed up for was bundled with the phone service I tried to switch from one company to another. Company A refused to release my phone number. The tug of war between Company A and Company B started February 10. I have a cell phone, but its limited reception inside my house means I need a landline for business calls. I can’t move my desktop computer or my desk outside for business calls. Companies A and B tugged for 25 days, during which time I had no phone. After four tech visits and at least four hours on the phone with various support people, I gave up trying to keep my old number, consented to a new number, and the phone (and TV) worked within 10 minutes.
The garage door wouldn’t close a few days ago, so we pulled the emergency cord, although it wasn’t an emergency. Not a good plan. The door wouldn’t resume working, even after reading directions and trying every suggested fix. We finally walked away and let it stew for a few days. Yesterday, I suggested trying again. It works! Maybe it needed a few days off. I can relate.
Computer issues are the most frustrating and disheartening because I lack tech skills. I study pages of documents retrieved via Google to figure out how to fix my various techy possessions, but after only moments, my eyes glaze over, my brain goes on standby, and I realize I don’t even understand what I’m reading, much less how to fix the issue. My mouse is too poor quality for the work I do, so I ordered a trackpad. The trackpad would not work unless I updated the OS. I updated the OS and then the scanner wouldn’t work. I tried fixes suggested on support sites, eyes glazing over and brain going on standby, and none of them worked. I let the scanner rest for a few days. Yesterday, I downloaded software and marshaled my patience and focus to install new printer software. The scanner now works, and the upgraded OS has resolved some other software glitches.

It's a good idea to make sure everyone in the family has a copy of the new keys.
New, improved door locks are a fine addition to any home. A key that fits those locks is a fine addition to each family member’s keychain. Skipping the key-sharing step often means the next thing you have to add is a new screen. The front window screen was in a slashed state for a week until I replaced it. The window is open to the welcome the breeze.
My son’s dad ordered him a cell phone weeks in advance of his February 17th birthday knowing it would arrive in time because the seller was located in Florida. The much-anticipated cell phone was not in Florida, but in China. Weeks after the birthday amid mounting disappointment at the mailbox, the seller informed him some screws were missing. The order was cancelled. A week later, the new, improved cell phone from another seller has arrived.
Amaryllis blooms delight me each spring. By this time last year, the buds had burst into color and brightened my day. Sometimes, despite the best of care, an Amaryllis might skip a year and not bloom. It looked like one of those years. If checking each plant five times daily produced blooms, the plants would be covered. On top of all my other frustrations, I added disappointment. Yesterday, I spied the buds poking up from the earth.
I wish problems and their resulting frustration were predictable and that when I meet them, I could just resolve whatever issue I face and get on with life. When I can’t fix what’s broken, frustration increases. When multiple material items aren’t fixed and more continue to break, my frustration becomes helplessness. I begin to feel despair because I want things to work, I want things to be smooth, I want to use my computer mouse, I want to have a business call at my desk and not in the front yard. I love technology when it does what its supposed to do, but when it doesn’t, I take it as a personal affront, as if nature, electricity, and machines are conspiring against me.
I usually can take things in stride, unless I’m taking ten things in stride and the weight throws off my footing. My demands that things go my way probably don’t help. Like most people, I want things to go my way, and when an overwhelming amount of things go the opposite direction from my path, I lose my way on that path.
I know that sometimes brokenness is the way of that path. Sometimes I have to take a call outside on the walkway or on the back patio. Sometimes I have to bumble through a document without being able to scroll. Sometimes I have to wait until the scanner is fixed to be able to scan a document. I have to buy the replacement screen and spline and have the necessary time to repair the screen. I have to make more copies of the keys. Sometimes I have to carry my gardening basket through the front door, rather than through the garage. The garage door didn’t work, it looked like rain, and I didn’t want to schlep the dirt-crusted gardening basket back inside, so I left the basket by the front door.
Sometimes something shakes us up. At first sight of my basket by the door, one family member’s thought, “Oh, no! Someone left a baby in a basket.” On closer observation, it was obvious there was no baby. But that’s how imagination works. I need to bring imagination into play more often when things don’t work. Imagine what it would be like to just sit back, and as I’m able, fix things one by one, and then relax away from the frustration. It’s going to happen. It’s life. And sometimes, things are going to break all at once. Other times, everything will get fixed in a few days time. At that time, I must remember to sit back, look around at everything that’s fixed, relax into the lack of brokenness, and wait for the amaryllis buds to open and show me their blooms.

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