Drive the nail – A Portable Feast – Medium

Drive the nail

We should all make time for “other work”. Stuff that falls outside our sphere of normal labor. We quickly learn how little we know and it’s good to feel that sense of childish wonder at adopting a new skill. You get to learn something from unexpected people and enjoy the camaraderie inherent to those kinds of projects.

Recently, the task outside our competence has been a new house. All the quirks and creaks of the past 17 years are being reformatted to the quirks and creaks that we are comfortable living with. It’s amazing how soon we will see all our hard work begin to age-out, but that’s another blog for another day.

Pictured above, Jared is setting a beautiful new floor where there once was a piece of filler-board. He took the time to weave it into the existing slats so when stained, it will be brand new. We had no nails and so the job of finishing this project fell to me.

A week later, in a much less competent pose, I am sitting spread-legged like toddler with plastic toy tools. And the results are looking similar. Tapping a thousand times on each nail, being careful not to miss. I do NOT want to scar this new wood. And so I tap tepidly, my hand near the head of the hammer. Every other nail is bending into a twisted mess. I hammer, pull, hammer, then move on. As frustration sets in, I slide my grip down to the end of the hammer for maximum force, and let fly a raging smack. The nail goes straight in.

Set another nail. Smack! With vigor, confidence, absolution, the nail goes in. The next 2 thirds of the nails go in with three hits or less, and my bent nails become far fewer. A few give way, but they are just as mangled as when I was hitting them lightly.

I sat back and began reflecting.

This is life.

We can be too careful, overly aware of what we do not want to accomplish, a frantic attempt to complete something meaningful while avoiding the pitfalls. But that causes distraction and we begin missing, bending, twisting. We fulfill our own prophecy and make the very mistakes we dread, strictly because we are concentrating on them. You don’t drive your car down the road because you don’t want to hit another car, you drive it to get somewhere.

Hammering nails inspired me.

We need to lower our grip and start giving the things around us a solid swing. We will bend nails, and maybe hit the floor a time or two, but the damage is no worse than when we tread timidly. Take aim, decide what needs to happen, then give it a strong try. Failure is far outweighed by he confidence you have put into motion.

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