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.