February 19, 2012

It's Not That Hard

Sometimes you procrastinate doing something - even though it's not hard - because you're just too busy tackling other things.

And sometimes, you put something off, because it just seems so hard.

At work, I've always taken an SAT approach to my workload: do the easy stuff first. Tackle everything you know first. At least that way, something gets done. Because if you spend all your time hung up on trying to figure out something difficult, no questions get answered. Nothing gets done.

But sometimes, what may seem hard isn't actually that hard.

Back in November, ten months after moving in, I bought what I think is my final piece of major furniture for my apartment: a stainless steel-topped kitchen cart on casters that would ideally replace the kitchen table I moved from New York with (which unfortunately just wasn't fitting right). When I asked the clerk about it in the store, he said, "Oh yeah, it's great. But just so you know, it's really hard to put together."

"Oh...really?" I asked, as my face twisted. I'd already put together a variety of tables, chairs, chests, and shelving units since moving in, and I'd mastered every dowel, screw, joint, and hinge that had been scattered across my kitchen floor. But was this going to be really hard?

I wasn't daunted enough not to buy it. And I wasn't daunted when the clerk struggled to hoist it into my trunk, my car sinking under its weight. I wasn't daunted when, at 115 pounds, it was so heavy, I barely got the parcel into my building, and could find no way to push, pull, or slide the thing up the carpeted stairs to the second floor. I was so not daunted that I refused the help offered by my neighbor, and instead sliced open the cardboard box and carried the unassembled pieces up to my apartment, batting away styrofoam debris that puffed up into the air from the depths of the box's contents.

And then, the cart sat, in pieces, splayed across my kitchen, for months.

I couldn't find a time when I had the mental bandwidth - or the time - to deal with it. As it is, I'm rarely home and awake, and if I am, it's late and I can't break the night's silence with my power screwdriver. I knew it would take longer than an hour, but would it take as long as a day? More than a day? I don't have a day to spare. If I'm not working, and the sun is shining, I must be outside.

So I've been hoping for a rainy day to keep me indoors, so I could attend to the poor mess which had been weighing on me, looming over me, for far too long.

On Wednesday, I finally got my rainy day.

It was the day after Valentine's Day, a day I've come to habitually and preemptively take off from work (when I'm working at all), in anticipation of either a love hangover or, more likely, an actual hangover. Given my propensity for depression, and my love life showing no improvement since last Valentine's Day, there was no reason to make an exception this year. And so after spending several requisite hours in bed on Wednesday, metaphorically licking my wounds as well as hydrating, I finally tackled the kitchen cart, piece by piece, screw by screw.

And it wasn't that hard.

What had I been waiting for?

Sure, it took a few hours' investment, meditatively screwing various bits and pieces together. And although it wasn't that hard, it also wasn't easy, and I didn't do it perfectly: among other things, I put the bottom on backwards and discovered it late into the process, necessitating an awkward undoing and redoing.

But you know what? Nothing screwed cannot be unscrewed. Nothing flipped cannot be flopped. And with no parts being sawed or cut in any way, nor anything being irreparably glued or adhered, there was no real risk in misunderstanding any of the instructions or, simply, finding my own way. The jigsaw puzzle that gradually stood before me could have been put together in any number of ways (as evidenced by the backwards bottom, which for a long time appeared correct). And although there was really only one correct end result, doing any of the given instructions out of order (or redoing them later) doesn't make the end result any less correct.

Sure, it took me a long time to get to it - three months after dragging the thing up to my apartment, and over a year after moving in - but in the end, I did get to it. The (115 pound) weight is now off my shoulders.

And it is fabulous.

Now, onto other things...

Related Reading:
Is It Hard?

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