Find What You Are Made Of
Let me tell you a story,
When I was about 14 my Dad decided it was time to replace the roof on our house. School has just ended and it wasn’t too hot. He decided that with some “coaching” I would be good enough to help and we could do it together and save money.
We went to the Home Depot and bought a tool belt, a hammer that wasn’t too heavy for me and what felt like 80Million pounds of shingles, roofing felt and nails. Once we got the stuff home I banged a few nails into a random piece of wood and my training was complete. I was Dad-certified.
On our first day I woke up about 8AM, had a great breakfast and we got started. The first step was to take off all of the old shingles and repair any damage to the wooden roof itself. There were three layers of shingles and getting them (and all the nails) up was no joke. We pried them up and shoveled them off the roof into a huge roll off trash bin. We fixed some dry-rot and then got the felt rolled out and nailed down.
Then the clouds started to roll in. If you have ever lived in the Southeast, these sudden and vicious thunderstorms are normal. They come out of nowhere and with incredible wind and rain. The forecast for the week had been clear, but we knew what was about to happen. My dad rushed to get thin strips of wood we could nail along the felt to help keep it down during the rain. We got them in place and took cover in the house.
These storms were generally short-lived. This one was not. It rained for hours and the felt was very little help. Almost immediately water started to pour into the house. It got so bad that my Dad had us sleep under a large table because he knew that the drywall on the ceiling would start to fall in on us. It took a surprising amount of time for it to happen, but around 9PM we heard the first bang. A massive piece of drywall in the back room had collapsed and the room was soaked. I remember the floor starting to swell and buckle under our feet.
Let me tell you, it was frightening. Not only because of the huge effort it was going to take to clean it up, but because we were not sure when it would stop. As my Dad came back to sleep (under the table) he said we should get up much earlier tomorrow as we need to get the roof on faster than he had thought and now we had days of work to do to clean up the inside of the house.
The miracle? Well, my Dad who was ordinarily extremely short-tempered never lost his cool and actually became more positive as he outlined the amount of work ahead of us. The next morning we awoke very early and started nailing shingles. I honestly don’t remember anything other than nailing shingles for hours and hours and hours with my new hammer and tool belt full of nails.
The irony? My 14 years of random craziness and sports had trained me for the rain and hard work and the random nailing had prepared me for placing shingles. I was certified after all!
The week ended well. Well enough that my Dad took me to Arby’s on a few of the days. In our house, that was a sign of success. The floor in the house never really went back to normal, but the roof never leaked again.
I look back on the week as an example of finding what you are made of. Too often, before a project even begins, I can psych myself out as to the zillions of reasons not to do something, but once things get rolling, I find myself pushing further and harder than I ever thought. When you look for it you find it happening all around you. These are some of my observations in my last week alone:
My sister ran 80 miles in a race.
A family member of mine has been on a journey to understand a mystery ailment and has had more tests that one should have to endure.
A colleague of mine has started graduate school, while working and helping raise their 2 month old
A drug was FDA approved that friends of mine have been advocating for the last 6 years.
When you are a witness to it, seeing people (and yourself) find what they (or you) are made of is one of life’s great blessings.
Here is to great stories,