Why Building A Deck Is Like Everything Worth Doing
My husband went across the country last month to work and play for three weeks.
But mostly work, because that is what my husband does: he works.
And so a day after arriving, he began to build a deck. And he began at the beginning because that's where you start.
First, he did the hardest part - he dug the post holes. He did the part that was dirty and sweaty, the only part that really matters in the end because if he didn't do this part properly, the whole thing would fall apart - people would be sitting on this visually appealing deck, drinks in their hands, deep in important conversation, and then BOOM. They'd be on the ground, cursing and brushing themselves off and wondering why Tim didn't make this thing a bit stronger. And since that's not a scenario my husband's comfortable with, he dug the hell out of those holes to make his structure sturdy.
Next came all the other things that go into building a deck - forgive my almost complete inability to come up with applicable analogies and comparisons here - I'm a carpenter's wife, not a carpenter, and so the finer points are lost on me. But I suspect there's framing involved, the stuff that actually keeps the pretty part up. I suspect, too, that there are lots of tiny things holding the framing together - endless screws and nails and joint fasteners and other tiny things. I think my husband was probably quite careful when he secured each one of these tiny fasteners. I think it probably really matters where each one goes, that simply screwing them wherever he wanted might not have achieved the proper level of accuracy and strength.
And then, at the end, just when my husband was probably pretty tired from working so hard, when he really just wanted to hang out with his friends and feel like he was on vacation, he needed to keep going. Because the pretty part - the part everyone was waiting for - needed to be built. And so he kept being careful as he cut each piece of decking. Accuracy kept mattering. And one piece at a time, all the way across this long expanse, he put one piece down and nailed it. And then one more piece and another nail and then on and on.
And on the night when it was maybe going to rain, he kept working into the dark. Because he was almost done. He was so close. Because he could see that it really had become this beautiful thing that he wanted his people to use and enjoy. Because he wanted to be done, yes, but also because he was almost done with what he'd come here to do. And so he worked and worked until it was done.
"It's already like it's always been here."
He didn't go to Portland and hem and haw about how to best dig the post holes. He did not wake up on the fifth morning and say, "I just don't know if I'm good enough at building decks to continue."
He just dug and built and screwed and cut and nailed.
He did the thing he knows how to do. He did it well. He did it carefully and with integrity and with style. He did it when it was sweaty and hard. He probably even got a splinter - and then he probably took it out and kept working.
And then, the thing that had been waiting to be there was there, like it always had been.