We’ve had some warmer days so I’ve been taking a break from the garden and catching up on some inside work instead. And learning five life lessons while I’m at it.
We have a room that was originally a guest room, and when I started dialysis, it became my treatment room. Since the transplant, I have not really wanted to use it, so I decided that like all my other dialysis reminders I would get rid of it – repaint and repurpose it back to a guest room.
And during this time, it occurred to me, that in some ways the approach to painting a room is just like living life.
1. Step back and look at the big picture
You know how it is – you’re on your knees with your head pressed up against the wall painting the skirting boards, thinking you are so good at it, you should do it for a living. Then you pull back to reload your brush and see you are doing an excellent job of painting the wall as well.
In life, it is so easy to get lost in the little things to the exclusion of what really matters. You need to step back now and again to see whether what you are doing is really taking you where you want to go.
2. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
See point one. If I had remembered that basically, I am actually crap at painting, I would have put masking tape on the walls and painting the tape would not have mattered quite so much. Now I should repaint the over painting…
The same is true in life, but it seems much more difficult. It really doesn’t have to be – all you actually need to do is take a few moments to think about what could go wrong. Then work out what you need to do to avoid that! Or if you can’t avoid it, what you can do to reduce the fallout. Obviously, this provides the most benefit when dealing with your mother-in-law and/or life partner.
3. If there is a clear and logical way to paint a sash window, then you can do anything.
It took a bit of searching, but there really is a logical way to paint a sash window. It’s brilliant! If only all of life came with such clear and practical instructions.
Too many times we constrain ourselves by saying “Oh, I could/would never do/eat that”. I decided that being given this new life meant I had to use it, because if I did not, it would waste the precious gift I have been given. I have now eaten eel (delicious) and chicken feet (interesting), sung along with shop music and danced with a busker. Making myself do things out of the ordinary has been utterly exhilarating, and no one said anything (except the busker, and he said thanks).
4. With full credit to Richard Carlson , don’t sweat the small stuff (and it really is all small stuff).
So I over painted the wall while I was painting the skirtings… I can’t for the life of me imagine what the worst possible consequence might be – it’s hardly going to lead to nuclear holocaust. Now that the furniture is back in (particularly the lovely quilt which I should have taken a better picture of) you hardly even notice the paint job. Especially when you are standing up doing stuff! If you stay at my place and all you take away with you is my inadequate painting then I pity you. What about the impeccable food? The abundance of beverages? The trips?
5. Sometimes you really do need to call in the professionals
I’ve slapped a bit of paint around. It passed some time, it gave me something practical and creative to do with my time. For the most part, I am happy with that. Obviously, a professional would have achieved a much better result, much more quickly. And when it comes to taking care of my new kidney, I won’t be going DIY but will rely on my kidney care professionals because I’m looking for the best possible result for that one.
And that’s it – the whole of life encapsulated by one small bedroom. Maybe I should go back and touch it up, but life doesn’t allow do-overs either does it?
So what do you think? Is this a satisfying metaphor, or did I miss something? Is the ability to paint a sash window a sufficient basis to try other new and seemingly impossible things? What should my next impossible thing be?
 Carlson, R. 1997. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all Small Stuff. Hyperion.