Sunday, November 29, 2009

Paralyzed by Doubt

I just wanted to pontificate a little on my inability at times to take action, which is in direct contrast to my Mentor, who is all about action and doing, and must make him scratch his head in befuddlement whenever things don't get done. My lack of confidence has delayed this barn project in a number of ways, though for the most part, it has not been disastrous... yet. From the beginning, my Mentor has been advising us on what needs to be done and the proper chronology of events that go into finishing a house, and in typical fashion, I sat on them.

Bear in mind, this has nothing to do with laziness or shirking responsibility (well, maybe a little), though on the surface that is probably how it appears. It really boils down to being paralyzed by fear and doubt of the unknown, especially where large sums of money are involved. Then again, the process of confronting that doubt and overcoming it is all a part of becoming a real man, right?

From the beginning there have been things that needed to be done, supplies that needed to be ordered, and just a whole slew of responsibilities regarding things that I'd never before had to deal with. So in typical fashion, I tried my best to ignore them. In a way, I was living the very life that I disparage, based on the principle of "out of sight, out of mind," or as the French say,"Loin des yeux, loin du coeur." In other words, who cares how things run or are made, or where your food comes from or what is in it, just pay someone else to deal with it. This frees up a great deal of time to spend watching TV or shopping, or fretting about your life (something I've mastered)

I lived most of my life this way, and it really makes your life suck. Nothing gets done and you kick yourself after the fact because of it. Life literally just passes you by. It's easy when you're a city boy, and nowhere does this attitude come together more than in New York City, the capital of self-absorption. People don't do anything themselves over there. Sure, they make loads of money, but the they pay people to wash and fold their laundry, walk their dogs, and of course, watch their kids. In a way it creates entire industries and fuels the economy. Pay your taxes and expect that your water, heat and whatever you flush down your toilet is dealt with. Easy.

Since moving up here, we've had to make conscious decisions about a number of things that we'd never thought of before. Besides parenting, we have to be conscious of our well and septic system (we can't put nasty stuff, meaning toxic chemicals, in the ground or down the sink for fear of contaminating our water supply), wood to heat our house, where our food comes from, and now barn. The situation is more difficult in New England because the elements are really out to get you.

Early this summer/spring, my Mentor gave us a series of things we needed to take care of to build the barn, and he indicated he was willing to help, but none of them got done. At least not at first. In a way, I was doing to him exactly what I'd done to PD. I said we wanted to build the barn, and was hoping he's just do it and let me pound a few nails in to have a feeling of accomplishment.

Well, as any real man knows (this includes real man in training), things are never that simple. Since my Mentor is a busy man and probably was not planning on building the entire barn by himself (darn!), the responsibility fell upon yours truly. My first response was completely in character-ignore it and hope it would go away. No such luck, however.

The beauty of it all was that once things got moving and I shook off my cowardice and simply dealt with logistical issues, I realized that they weren't that bad, and felt ashamed that I let fear once again dictate my actions. Not that fear will completely go away in my life, but I do feel more capable, and dare I say, empowered. I'm working towards invincible.

None of this would have happened if certain events did not fall in place. First off, the opportunity to finish this barn, thanks to RR. Second, that the plans with PD fell through. If that were to have worked out, I would have sat back with a cocktail and watched PD and his crew finish the barn, and what fun would that be? And thirdly, having someone there to at least guide me, even hold my hand a little, and give me a foundation to start on. Thanks to my Mentor for that, with special mention to PR, PD, GS, and a wide assortment of people with building experience who have answered by pleas for assistance.

Serendipity at it's best. The process can be difficult mainly because this is all new terrain and an area that's easy enough to avoid for most of your life. There is no shortage of people who will take your money to do the job, but then it simply becomes a process of getting from point A to point B, and you completely miss out on the journey.

With this in mind, having been forced to take action and do many of these things, I feel much better. Sure, the work is hard, and I have zero free time, but am I ever learning a lot. More importantly, however, I'm being reminded of the fact that nothing replaces experience in terms of not only getting things done, but in self-discovery and personal growth.

Just do it, as the saying goes.

I know that my Mentor will never stop wondering how I made it this far in life, but things are moving along, and one day that answer will become clear to him. Not, however, until the siding is ordered and stored, the trees cut down, the roof is attended to, the septic is dug, the patio is replaced, the barn is sealed, and attic is properly insulated.

And that's just Phase 1 of this project. Did I mention that I think I broke my foot in karate? I'm not whining, of course.

I also wanted to say that I really don't think I could have pulled off any of what little I've done thus far if I didn't have the mental and emotional callouses that I've developed from 8+ years of parenting, the hard way, no less. Nothing is more humbling or puts you through the ringer like attending to your kids. It makes framing and sheathing seem like a walk in the park. After surviving the rigors of fatherhood, you come out the other side one step closer to being a real man. I'd like to thank A&N for that.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Yamamoto Ortiz for the pic.

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