A few weeks ago I wrote, “I don’t think I’m very stubborn.”
Yeah…I take that back.
This week I noticed a slow leak in the toilet in my kids’ bathroom. Upon first glance, it just looked like one of the gaskets had given out. The whole system was old, so I decided I’d just replace it all this weekend. Fun Saturday project, right? Heck, maybe I’ll even make a time-lapse video of the repair for the blog!
I got the parts and tools and set the camera up and away I went. Everything went smoothly for approximately three minutes. Then, as I started trying to loosen one of the nuts from the bolt that held the tank to the bowl, I noticed the whole thing kept spinning. This is a nightmare for a person with one hand. Two-handers can use one hand to hold the top of the bolt steady with a screwdriver and then work on the nut with their other hand. I can’t. So, I just kept spinning it and spinning it, getting more and more frustrated.
At this point, if I was smart, I would have stopped. Of course I didn’t. I mean, the video was running and I knew my wife wanted it done and I hate being defeated. Seriously, ask my wife how I get with these projects. Wait…I take that back. Don’t ask her. It got to the point where I had stripped both bolts that I needed to remove, so…ugh, this is so embarrassing…I just grabbed my vice-grips and started torquing them back and forth, hoping to snap them in half. One of them actually did, but the other one didn’t. It really didn’t. In fact, it so didn’t, it busted a hole through the tank. You can imagine my joyous response.
Well, I was not giving-up. I went back to the hardware store (we are now two hours into the project) and got a hacksaw (to remove the bolt) and a large rubber washer which would hopefully cover the hole. I went ahead and put all the new hardware in and hoped for the best. I turned the water back on and as the tank filled…it also started to leak. Everywhere. So, there I stood, sopping wet with sweat, my back and hand killing me, garbage and water everywhere, frustrated beyond belief. Three hours for nothing. And I still had to clean all this crap up. And buy a new tank and do it all over again!
Being stubborn can be a blessing and a curse, I suppose. In this case it seems like a curse. I wasted a good portion of my day, when I could have stopped as soon as I realized it wasn’t going to work and tried again when I had some help. That’s not really my gig, though. I think of it as being “singular focused” or determined or competitive. “THIS TOILET WILL NOT DEFEAT ME!” I said (before cursing it).
I need to be smart about it, though. I’m sure a lot of you can relate. I’m sure it’s naturally ingrained in me to prove that I can do things because of my limb-difference, but there are times I need to be less stubborn and more wise. There are times I need to ask for help, even if it feels like defeat.
And as I write that, perhaps that’s where the lesson lies. Maybe I didn’t waste three hours of my day breaking my toilet and my back. Maybe it was to teach me that it’s ok to ask for help when I need it. In fact, it’s more than ok; it’s necessary sometimes. And when we put aside our stubbornness and get the help we need, things tend to work a lot better.
And even though my toilet is still broken, that lesson’s worth three hours.
By the way…here’s the video: