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Lessons from a door

Posted in Home & Decor

Every time I walk through my front door I smile.

Not because I am happy to be home (although I often sigh with relief at having returned) or because I am so in love with my house (which I am and I try not to take it for granted) but because that front door is all my doing.

When we bought the house, the oval glass at the center of the door was ever slightly cracked. The relentless sun that beats on the door through the course of the afternoon had peeled and faded the stain and the wood. Then, last year, an accidental slamming cracked the glass all the way.

We looked at replacing the 20-year-old solid oak door. Run of the mill options found at Home Depot and the like were just slabs of compressed pressboard which set you back hundreds of dollars. For solid oak, we were looking at thousands. So the idea took root that I could fix what was just partially broken. Good for our pockets and good for our landfills.

A glass maker was called to replace the glass with a piece I liked better – that was the easy part. A trip to the hardware store, and the patience of one the assistants, equipped me with everything I needed to sand, stain and protect. It seemed doable. It is doable – even laughable – for any of those handy people with beautiful remodeling blogs all over the world. Me, it’s a different kettle of fish. I lack patience and quickly get bored when the results take time and effort.

Let’s just say that the door project made me a laughing-stock, persecuting me day in and day out, every time I went through the front stoop. My sister was here last January and predicted that, by August, it still wouldn’t get done. It didn’t. My excuses veered from needing three consecutive days I couldn’t string together to having to write a blog post and everything in between.

My mother came in July and prodded me. Nothing. The sanding paper, cans and brushes sat idle in the laundry room. Until enough was enough.

Nothing special happened. I chose to look at the peeling door and feeling sorry for it. In a burst of alacrity I sanded (two days); stained (three days) and applied a protective coat (two days). I am not being immodest when I say the job looks professional: even, no spills or smears. It looks like a new door.

Manual labor has the same ability to transport us into a state of flow, of meditation that I routinely experience when I cook or mop. The repetitiveness frees my mind to go elsewhere, to lull itself in the cradle of different ideas.

Describing a book on the workings of the brain, Karl Ove Knausgaard says: “[…] the feeling of flow we all know, when we are so deeply immersed in something that we lose track of time and who we are, has a neurological explanation: In a state of flow, the frontal lobe is reduced, it is almost shut down – and it is in the frontal lobe the ability for abstract thinking situated, the planning for the future and the sense of self. Everything that makes us human, in other words, and that makes perfect sense: you lose yourself and sink into a state of pure being, like an animal – belonging to the world, not to yourself.”

Can fixing a door do all that? I think it can, like everything we do where we can safely take our egos out of. I am currently looking for new projects around the house.

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17 Comments

  1. Winston Moreton
    Winston Moreton

    Wow! Is the green door yours.

    August 23, 2017
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    • Sadly, not my door. Mine is much more pedestrian.

      August 24, 2017
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    • Sadly not my door. Mine is much more pedestrian…

      August 24, 2017
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  2. Come dipingere. Ma brava!

    August 22, 2017
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  3. There’s nothing more rewarding that surviving and conquering a home project. If you’re really desperate, I have a few I can share. #TheWorkNeverEnds

    August 22, 2017
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    • That could be fun! Hanging out with you, Sam and Elsa in my painter’s overalls!! ah ah ah…#TheWorkNeverEnds…so bloody true.

      August 22, 2017
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  4. I’ve always found peace doing manual projects like that. Especially if I felt very informed afterwards. Like, I started out knowing nothing about XYZ, and not sure I could do it. Now I can.

    I always figured it was the satisfaction of having a tangible output to show for my hard work — not something I get much of at my office. I hadn’t considered the lack of ego associated with the work. Never a bad thing to ditch ego and self-focus.

    August 22, 2017
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    • I do like the research that needs to be done before a project – I am such a blank slate when it comes to diy.

      August 22, 2017
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  5. Mm totally understand about the “state of flow”, which I also get from cooking, mopping, sweeping, ironing, etc, etc.

    There’s something special in doing or creating something with your own hands

    August 22, 2017
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    • Cooking, mopping and cleaning help me get into that state…ironing…not so much…so happy my mom is here for a few months and takes care of the ironing!

      August 22, 2017
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  6. …and this is why I knit! It is my yoga and meditation time, the endless repeats of knits and purls, sometimes punctuated by crossing stitches or throwing yarn overs. At the end of it, there’s always something you can show for the time you spent at it, and it is wonderful.

    August 22, 2017
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    • I am so enviious! Always wanted to knit but I am so hopeless…

      August 22, 2017
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    • Hah, you’ve written exactly what I would have! 😀 Knitting, spinning, dyeing yarn, yoga and meditation – it’s like a massage for my brain.

      August 23, 2017
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  7. This post made me laugh! we’ve all been there…but a year or two ago I discovered Sugru, and now I am always on the lookout for things
    I can fix. Sugru is an amazing substance (for want of a better word) invented by a young woman in Glasgow some years back. When I first bought a packet it only came in two colours – white and black, now it is in many colours, and has a longer shelf life —I am not writing a commercial, I just love the stuff! I fixed a coffee machine of my mum’s, the ferule on the bottom of my stick which I need to get around; the knob on the radio in our old car, the wing mirror on same old car. Don’t know if Sugru is available in the USA but if it is – you need some! Google it to find out more. BTW having just read through what I’ve written it seems like a bit of an advert, it’s not! I just love the stuff!!

    August 21, 2017
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    • You kidding? advertise all you want! I just googled it. Yes, it is available online – it’s called Sugru Mouldable Glue. This is so right up my alley! Thank you…

      August 22, 2017
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