Use By Dates? Ha! In the midst of tackling yet another anxiety, I found a bottle of (probably haz-mat) stuff that was so old the bottle didn’t have a Use By Date, or a bar code, or (gasp!) even a web site! That’s today’s treasure from a retiring a plumbing chore, a day that also saw a medical concern alleviated, and – oh yeah, a more peaceful government come to power. Slowly, life gets better, but we (or at least my stresses) have a long way to go thanks to a pandemic, climate change, societal unrest, and other injustices. One thing at a time is good. Three at a time can be even better. All at once can be too much.
I mentioned government last, but will write about it first. I don’t want to create a false sense of suspense so let’s start there. I’m glad the nuclear codes are in mature and responsible control. I’m glad to hear science, facts, data, logic, reason, and compassion are coming back into style. I’m glad there is at least the intent to actually manage and govern the country while also defending and protecting the US Constitution. There is some relief, there.
There are also a long list of anxieties of which;
“Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways.
But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with the gravest of responsibilities.” – President Joe Biden
I am glad for the relief. I am also too aware of the scope of those challenges, as well as being aware of an echo from one of the first posts to this blog (long lost to Apple orphaning the software that supported that post) from President Obama’s election. While many were cheering the man named Barack, I was glad, but also weighed down with the reality of the work required to recover from the Great Recession (The Second Great Depression). A familiar weight remains, but with the awareness of an undercurrent of people willing to attempt an armed insurrection.
So, some anxieties relieved; but not ignoring the rest, either.
I list these anxieties as I retire them because I’ve found selective amnesia is willing to forget the depths of the downs that can highlight the heights of the ups. I also list these because it is also easy to forget how long it takes for such transitions to happen.
One anxiety I’ve been quiet about was spawned by an off-hand comment by a newly-graduated eye doctor. They were probably still learning a bed-side or chair-side manner as they casually began to listing the various ways I could go blind. There was even a hint of how I could die. Not a cheery office visit. That was several years ago. Since then I’ve been too aware of those possibilities and the price of those surgeries and treatments. Finally, thanks to a gift from a friend, I was able to afford a second opinion and possibly a surgery. This time it was from a doctor closer to the end of their career. They were also closer to my age, very aware of the same issues, but much better practiced at putting things in perspective. Instead of comparing my aging eyes to the perfection of youth, he compared me to himself and others our age. Yes, my eyes aren’t perfect. Hey, that’s life. Yes, there are issues to keep in mind. No, no need for surgery; but a new prescription – and A Lot Less Stress – would clear up many issues. Oh yes, and if a massage helps, go get a massage. Weird as it may seem, after weeks of intense work, I’ve found an hour long massage improves my eye sight. (I’m sure there are straight lines in there, but the improvement is seriously good enough that I skip the jokes.)
The same topic from two different perspectives is more than doubly valuable. Of course, I’m reminded of the problem with old-style watches that didn’t keep the most accurate time. A person with one watch might be confident, even adamant, about the time, because they had one number and that’s all they needed. A person with two watches might be confident if the watches agreed, but they rarely did; so, the person with two watches knows at least one, and maybe both, are wrong. A person with three watches might have a better idea of the time, but they’re probably also giving their friends reasons to worry about them.
And then there was the plumbing problem. Since I bought this house fourteen years ago (hey! just realized this is the anniversary!) there’s been a sink with a slow drain. I don’t use it much, so didn’t worry about it; but I did wonder. Plumbing problems can easily mean four trips to the store and a bit of plumbing out of operation between the trips. I dreaded trying to pull it apart, hoped it wasn’t anything major, hoped I wouldn’t break anything, hoped it wouldn’t cost too much, and hoped I wouldn’t have to call a plumber.
Step one, clean out the area. And, hello, a bottle of some cleaning product that was so old that the company is probably gone, there were no instructions about what it did or how it did it or what to do if it got splashed around on skin. This is also the one that had no barcode or web site, which are now so ubiquitous, that finding something without that information seems like an archaeological find.
Step two, carefully start disconnecting pipes, celebrating the fact that none of them cracked or broke, and finding that the only problem was a hairball from the previous owner. No need for new parts or a drain snake.
Simple? Yes. But for years there were higher priorities for fixing and repairs like the roof, the gutters, windows, walls – and I’ll spare you the long list.
Our big problems are unlikely to go away that easily. If we could clear away our larger problems as if they were just caused by a big hairball that would be a hairball that I wouldn’t want to meet. Besides, a hairball that size might fight back.
Retiring anxieties are definitely worth celebrating. There’s a cascading effect that is also worth celebrating. The money I put aside to possibly repair the septic system wasn’t needed because the repairs were minor. Whew. That money has helped sustain me during this downturn. The money set aside to retire one anxiety can fix it if necessary, and if not necessary, can slide over to work on the next in line.
I’ll check my lottery tickets, but it is rare to be able to tackle every anxiety simultaneously. Most of us must manage cash flow. (As I write that it reminds me that the country can’t do everything instantaneously and simultaneously, either.) Look back at the previous Retiring Anxieties posts and notice that I tend to group mine into threes. Writing about each individually would get boring for readers. Ignoring progress could become disheartening as selective amnesia minimizes memories. Trying to do everything could hurt, and possibly require more cash than is available. Bit by bit, not doing nothing, not doing everything, and making progress because of it.
Stresses remain. As issues are put aside, the others step to the front of the line distracting from the successes. There will always be more issues. I’m human and trained as an engineer. I can always find something that needs improvements; but for today (really tonight) I will have a glass or two of wine, get out my old glasses so I can watch a movie, and also cheer the shards from shattered glass ceilings.