Today was not really the day I expected it to be.
I have a big writing project due in less than two weeks. With everything else that has been going on at home and at work, I haven’t had a lot of time to dedicate to this project. So that was my big goal for the day–knock out as much writing as I could.
I didn’t get much further than an hour or so into it when the kids started to get rowdy. We were still at my in-laws, and my wife was tending to her father and mother–which meant my job was now to keep the kids occupied.
So I packed everyone up in the van, dragged them off to the store to run an errand, then went out to lunch. By the time we got back, it was getting close to 2pm, and I had lost the flow of writing. Instead, I decided to get to that other project that I had put off for so long–repairing the broken handles on the van.
Yes, the parts finally arrived, and I had loaded them into the van this weekend on the chance that I would have time to swap them out for the broken handles. All I needed to do now was to commit to doing the actual manual labor.
I have to admit: I’m really not terribly handy, and projects like this can get me bent out of shape. In fact, I almost bailed on the project entirely today on the excuse that if I messed up badly enough we would have to drive home to Atlanta with a disassembled door. Rather than balk, though, I decided I would give it a shot and hope for the best.
So it struck me that since I wasn’t going to get any more writing done, perhaps today was really all about my hands, not my head.
I managed to take off the door panel and remove the old handle without breaking anything else or dropping any screws down inside the door. It was a little struggle getting things reassembled, but with only one or two bouts of exasperation and minor cussing, I managed to get everything back together and functional.
The second handle went even better. A simpler job, true, but by this point I had started to overcome my doubts; I started to believe that I could actually get the job done.
I would be lying if I were to say that the entire process of fixing these handles was a study in mindful action. Maybe in moments, here and there, but the bigger gift for me today was simply being able to enjoy (for the most part) working with my hands instead of what I am usually working with–thoughts and words.
I like the word maneuver as a focal point for today, since not only does it suggest the kind of repositioning I experienced in shifting from language work to body work, but etymologically it literally means “hand work.”
It also shares the same etymology as the word manure–and it’s good to be reminded every now and then that there’s a difference between cultivating handiwork and merely spreading around fertilizer.