On Being a Tool

5 years ago

If you sent me to my room and told me to get dressed and I walked out with pants on my head, you would think me either insane or five years old.

 If you asked me to dust the blinds and I went in search of a circular saw, you would lock up the tools, myself included.

 If you wanted me to make you some tasty guacamole and I reached for the bag of marshmallows to fold into the mashed avocado, you would likely gag and remove me from the kitchen.

 I clearly could not be trusted.

 These are not difficult things to grasp when one is not insane, nor five years old. There are times, places, tools, ingredients for success. Not name-in-lights-fame-and-fortune success, just simple get-up-and-live success.

 How often do I walk around with my figurative pants on my head? How often do I make myself ridiculous by attempting to wear myself wrongside up? How often do I shatter and destroy something that only needs some gentle attention? How often do I serve up something completely unpalatable and expect people to just choke it down? I'm not sure of the exact answers to these questions. That's why I ask them.

 We have these tools for living: love, humor, time, talent, loyalty, fear, doubt, sensitivity, drive, ambition, conscience. We have recipes, instruction manuals, purpose and utility. It should be simple. Use the screwdriver to twist things in, to hold them securely. Use the pants to cover up your bum. Use the garlic in just about everything. Use a damp sponge and mild detergent to get out that spot. Use your love to comfort and heal and build. Use your fear to spur you on. Use your conscience to guide your steps. Somehow, though, we sometimes find ourselves sitting on the floor with a potato masher in our hands and wondering why it won't draw a straight line and why there are all of these extra parts lying around. You've covered your love with fear and gotten righteous indignation all stuck in it. You've mortared your bricks of ambition with the grape jelly of doubt and somehow misplaced your talent.

 Sometimes it feels like we've constructed these lives out of chicken wire and bubble gum. The wind howls through the holes and you stand up to shut the door and realize you've got your intentions stuck to your shoe and you go to light the fire with a spaghetti noodle and wonder why you feel so tired.

 Somehow it holds, though. We muddle through. We choke down the marshmallow guacamole and realize that while it was a textural nightmare, at least the avocados were nice and ripe. My favorite jeans have almost more holes than seat, so when I put them on my head and play the fool, if I turn my head just right, I can see out of them and find my way. Sometimes the shattered places, while essentially unnecessary and uncalled for, let in a different light and some fresh air.

 I clearly cannot be trusted, but yet I am. I am again and again and by all kinds of people. It is in this spot of grace where I make my messes, build my rickety structures of hope, I wallow and I bumble and I break. But sometimes, whether by luck or by concentration or by divine intervention, I grasp the hammer and hit the nail on the head. And while I congratulate myself, the people who love me quietly sweep up the debris.

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