If you have come to see that the Kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth while others do not, the End of the World has come for you. For the world as it was for you has indeed ended.”
From Thou Art That by Joseph Campbell
We had a sink problem recently. I had some work done in our garage that was supposed to fix one problem, but led to the sink problem.
Our old utility sink, into which our washing machine drained its cycles, had to be disconnected to complete the work that was supposed to fix the original problem. When it came time to reconnect it, the fittings were so old, they crumbled and needed to be replaced. The original thingies (technical term) to which you connect the sink are over sixty years old. Let’s just say that the interface with new materials was not compatible. Kind of like trying to hook up a manual typewriter to a wireless printer.
Well, not quite as bad as that, but close.
Our options were to find a way to connect the sink, or sink (so to speak) more money into drilling and cutting our way into the pipes to let the washing machine cycle drain.
Tom was eventually able to reconnect the sink. He is one of those men who combines a highly developed artistic sensibility (he’s an amazing composer) with a roll-up-his-sleeves ability to master common, and not so common, home repairs.
I am, in some ways, responsible for the odyssey. The person I hired to fix the original problem had found me wandering bewildered through Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) looking for a thingie (again, technical term) that would make the thing you use to turn the water on and off for the hose outside fit the thing it was supposed to screw into.
He presented himself as a fixer of problems, down on his luck, who would fix things cheaply. He seemed nice enough and knowledgeable enough that I convinced myself he could do the job in our garage, which involved laying cement.
To make a long story sort of short, he scheduled then rescheduled the work because of doctors’ appointments, upped his estimate the day he showed up to start the job, kind of did the job, it kind of led to the other problem, and he was indeed down on his luck—so far that a dark cloud hung over him.
He told me that the fittings didn’t match, instructed me on what I needed to get from OSH (the place in which he found me floundering, let’s not forget) so he could reconnect the sink, then went to his car to go to another job.
He couldn’t get his car into gear. It was frozen in park.
He was clearly freaked out. He needed the car for work so he could pay for his medical bills which had mounted up since he lost his job and so his medical insurance.
I called AAA, used my card to get his car started, watched him drive off, and decided that perhaps keeping him away from our garage might be a wise decision.
Let me be clear. Tom did not blame me for any of the fallout from my attempt to “fix” the problem.
And, while I don’t exactly feel I am at fault for the cascading events of fix-it folly I do see something that has lurked in my psyche—a bit of a demon really—that leads me down a questionable road.
I sort of felt sorry for our fix-it guy. I told myself that, well, these times call for us to cover each other’s backs. He needed work. I needed it done economically. He gave me an estimate. I believed him.
A warning bell went off when he had to reschedule, and then rang again when he raised his estimate just as he started the job. But the demon whispered to me that this was as good as it was going to get. And I listened to the demon. My bad.
Now, here is where I see progress in my life—stay with me, I think this will make sense.
For much of my early life, my relationships were based on decisions much like the one I made about Mr. Fix-it. I made excuses for behavior impelled by mortal emotional wounds, believed we had mutually invested in working towards a healthy, loving relationship, then thought this was as good as I could get when it became clear that our ideas of investment were not—shall we say—equitable. I was the one who tended to have the AAA card in case of emergency, for example.
This was my MO for romantic as well as friendship relationships.
I woke up when I was 40 and thought, “Hmmmm. I seem to be doing something wrong here.”
That’s when Tom came into my life, and I discovered what it was like to be with someone who cherished me. We’ve definitely had our rough spots—we are, after all strong personalities. But underneath it all, we cherish each other. And because I am cherished, I have learned to extend that requirement to other relationships.
I am learning that I don’t have to give my heart away to have the open heart I need to live my life fully.
I think that demon got towed away by AAA to the land of junker demons.
Which brings me back to Joseph Campbell’s quote. This might be too much of a leap, but what the hell.
That demon had the influence he did because I wanted someone or something else (God) to rescue me from my own life. The voice of that demon was a compilation of “truths” that were bequeathed to me by well-meaning family members, and reinforced by a social zeitgeist that enforced the rule that one must mold oneself into an image of God that existed out there—somewhere—and existed without any connotation of what it meant to be human.
Trying to find the divine out there is a fruitless search. It happens here, inside us and in the beauty of the world around us.
2012. That’s the year the world is supposed to end according to the Aztec calendar. Or so people believe that’s what the Aztec calendar predicts.
I think, perhaps for me, the world as I knew it has come to an end. It was a world of shame for being human—for not knowing.
This new world is about stumbling through life to discover what life is to me.
The end of the world ain’t so bad.
Our sink odyssey led us to purchase a new sink. I love our new sink. It brightens up the garage.
People ask, ‘When will the Kingdom come?’ The Kingdom will not come by expectation. The Kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth and men don’t see it.”
Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas