We get caught up in our little dramas and effectively are the architects of our Life Un-balance. It’s so easy to think our problems are worse than anyone else’s. Hopefully that point of view changes as we experience more of life and the world. It’s called ‘maturity’ – but then, that isn’t so common these days.
Drama feeds the adrenaline rush that keeps some folks going. The problem is, that kind of drama eventually exhausts a person. So, a little perspective is in order.
When I was in college there was an odd sort of commune out on the edge of town. Most people weren’t sure what they were up to, but it appeared pretty benign. They were vegans, had their own little religious rituals they apparently made up, and stayed out of the way.
One evening we saw on the news their barn had burned to the ground. They were shown shouting, “Thank You God For Taking This Barn!” My 21-year old friends and I found this mightily amusing. We figured it must have been full of dope and they’d burned it themselves, one step ahead of the law.
For years that was an inside joke for us. We’d be in the middle of a sticky situation and one of us would yell, “Thank You God For Taking This Barn!” And we’d all laugh uproariously. People nearby would eye us warily and look for exits to make their escape.
In retrospect, with a tad more maturity under my belt, I imagine the barn owners were saying, “If something had to burn, thanks for burning the barn and not the house!” In other words, “It coulda been worse!”
I had one of those situations this week. I walked into the living room and found a puddle on the tile floor. With two Chihuahuas, that’s not unusual. I scolded them, put them outside, and cleaned the puddle. Ten minutes later, the puddle reappeared… without the dogs’ help.
I started paying attention. The grout was wet all along the wall. Time to call the plumber. When he arrived and opened up the wall, lo and behold: a gallon or more of water lurked there, ready to puddle again!
He used a very cool listening device and located the leak. Because he had the right tools, he only needed to cut a couple of holes in the drywall and take out one large tile. After much jackhammering, the leak was found – a tiny pinhole in the hot water pipe. An hour later, the pipe was fixed, concrete patched, and in a day I could get the tile and wall repaired. Yesterday a friend came and finished the job for me. Done.
The plumber remarked that I was unusually calm about the need to dig a hole in my living room floor. He said he’d just left a house with a similar problem. The woman was crying and fretting about putting a hole in her beautiful tile floor. She hovered over him and questioned him every step of the way. (Warning to homeowners from the ex-wife of a contractor. The cost of the job goes up exponentially when you don’t get the hell outta the way.)
The way I saw it, this could have happened when I was traveling, and up till then I hadn’t thought to train my secretary in this particular type of emergency. So this was a reminder and an opportunity to correct that. It was also better than having a much larger and more damaging leak, one that required carpet and furniture replacement.
So I thanked the Plumber, and told him, “Coulda been worse!”
Beth Terry, CSP, is a Certified Speaking Professional, Author, and Corporate Trainer who has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people in 6 countries on Managing Change, Stress, Overwhelm, and Work Life Balance.
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