At the Casa Di Swears, we have a detached garage that has never, in 8 years, had a car in it. That’s because it’s not a garage, it’s a garage-sized workshop. But it’s also the home of the snow-blower, the generator, the lawn mower, 3 bikes, the crossbow target cube… many, many things that are not conducive to a functioning workshop.
My gentleman associate is a maker. He turns bowls. He makes beautiful pieces of furniture. He makes gorgeous curls of wood with his planes and what’s left behind is so, so lovely. He is a handcrafter. A woodworker. A maker. And because he has to unpack the garage in order to go out and coax something wonderful out of a blank of wood, he doesn’t do it. If he could use his craft as a balm for days full of suck, he would feel more stable. More calm. More mentally healthy.
Alas, he doesn’t have the strength of spirit to haul everything out into the driveway to unbury his lathe. So he doesn’t even try. My bike is in there. But I can’t get it out because it’s buried behind the table saw and 2 snow shovels and 3 yard waste bags. So I don’t even try. There’s a canoe out in my yard. Child has sanded it and prepped it for fiberglass repairs and Kevlar wrapping. It maybe should have gone into the garage for the last few winters. But no, we didn’t even try.
Mike’s plan was to build a lean-to type shed behind the garage. With that shed, we can make it easier for everyone to be able to get what they want. But right now, there’s no shed. So, Mike gets mad that he can’t get to his shop. He’s snarly, and I get snarly that he’s snarly. Then he’s snarly that I’m snarly. It’s like the bi-plane death spiral that we can’t pull out of.
This weekend, the conversation went like this:
Mike, standing at his workbench, me standing in the driveway at a safe distance.
Me: How’s about we just build the shed this weekend?
Mike: I don’t have plans yet and I don’t really know how to make the plans.
Me: So how’s about we just buy a prefab and drop it in the spot?
Mike: The ground is sloped.
Me: So how about we put it [here] instead of [there]? How about we call [the landscape guy] to prep the ground?
If this one thing is the thing that makes him feel better, and that makes me happier because he’s happier that’s totally a good thing, right? And if he can stop feeling frustrated about the lack of shed by doing it sooner than later, that’s even better. So we ordered a prefab shed.
Years ago, when I read The Happiness Project, one of Gretchen Rubin’s chapters was about money. Money won’t make you happy beyond a certain wealth threshold. And buying things (like, as in retail therapy) really isn’t as happymaking as it’s cut out to be. You get a bit of a boost from finding and buying the thing, but then when its just part of your collection of stuff, the boost is gone. But she said that it’s still possible to bring sustainable happiness to your life with things you purchase, too. I’ve thought about this over the years. I bought a chair for my front garden with this in mind. I sit in that chair in the middle of my herb garden and watch the bees and the pollinators around me. I’m still happy with that chair. I spent a lot of money on a terrace in my backyard. I love it. I bought 2 pairs of shoes that are the right size heel, and leather, and colourful. They appeal to both the comfort of my never-quite-healed Achilles Tendon injury, and my personality. This shed feels like another one of these types of purchases. This will encourage Mike to work with his hands. That will help him feel happier, and that in turn will help me feel happier. I will be able to get to my bike, which will give me a way to burn through the anxiety on those kind of days.
This is the opposite of the death spiral. This is the joy-spiral that you see when you see falcons rising upwards in the thermals and updrafts. And it’s kind of awesome.
Would that finding these joy-spirals always be this easy.