August 18, 2020

Corncrib

Several weeks back I began a big project.  I am dismantling our 60 plus year old corncrib.  I want to use the boards on a remodeling project.  The rest I’ll sell.  Starting this venture I was reminded of many life lessons.  It seemed to be a quick study or mirroring of real life.

The ideal living in my head was putting a color wash on boards and cutting the pieces to use as panelling.  It is essential to have a vision or goal.  To know what your end game is guides your steps and leverages decision making.  Our starting point is usually a very long way from the conclusion.  If we are too attached to our shiny dream the distance can shut us down before we get very far.  Sometimes even the starting point is farther back that we expected which could entice us to throw in the towel.

I went to the shady west side of the corncrib in the morning all ready with my gloves, safety glasses and bucket of tools. There was an immediate set back as trees and brush have grown up hugging the crib tight enough to not get mowed.  Pruning saw and clippers were added to the tools.  The first task changed to clearing the branches to get to the crib.

Once the work of pulling nails began multiple challenges came up.  So typical any time we engage life to make changes.  There is much that gets revealed by doing.  We can never theorize our way forward.  Only action moves the needle.  The learning curve will weaken our resolve if we buy into the myth that it-should-be-easier.  The wood is mostly very solid much to my delight.  I quickly learned to pull nails with the grain of the wood to lessen chances of splitting the wood.  I also discovered that the galvanized nails were very solid.  Much to my dismay. The nails were tight to the point that the crowbar was my primary tool. If a nail was raised I could get the crowbar under it and pull.  If the nail was flush I had to drive the crowbar on to the nail head with a hammer.  I quickly came to grips with my lack of upper body strength.  This dismantling was going to be a full body sport.   I hit the first wave of I-don’t-think-I-can-do-this.

I believe in systematic processes.  I had decided the “best” way to dismantle the corncrib would be board by board.  Remove all the nails in one board. Take it off.  Go on to the next.  Work from one end to the other.  Nicely systematic.  However.  The second board was fourteen feet long.  Most of the nails were flush and highly resistant to coming out.  Several of them folded up their heads rather then be pulled.  By the time the second board was off I was wearing out and a little demoralized.  There was so little to show for the effort.  I was not meeting my expectations of what I should be able to accomplish.  You have done this I am sure.  We are our own worst critics.  It is this self judgement that caused a second wave of deep doubt.

Stepping back I thought about what I could do.  Looking at the side of the corncrib there were a lot of raised nails.  I decided to let go of the systematic ideal and claim that pulling nails was also progress.  All the nails need to come out anyway, right?   Just pulling easy to get under nails gave the feeling of progress and, more importantly, the belief I could do this.  Sometimes we sabotage ourselves by hanging on to an ideal approach.  We’ll cling to how-it’s-supposed-to-work even when that method is stagnating us.  Being able to let go can keep us in action.

I had the love of my life come check in on how I was doing.  There was conformation that the systematic approach I’d abandoned was in deed the right way.  With the best of intentions and sincere desire to support he provided tool use instruction.  To which I said something very direct and not sweetly worded. Those outside the work may have valid contributions.  As the person in the work you are at choice and under no obligation to take on the advice.  Standing for yourself, your methods, your abilities instills confidence like few things can.  Sometimes we need to be challenged so we get riled up and clam our power.

The next time I worked on the dismantling I was able to get several boards off quickly. First, because I was fresh and second, because there were fewer nails to pull. I am sure I will learn or revisit many lessons over the course of this project.  It’s what happens naturally anytime we actively engage with life.

For Your Best Possible Self Coach Christine Clark

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