Hazel is a voracious reader and has amassed a small library of books in her 11 years on the planet. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a bookshelf project in her room. I’m handy with tools and I enjoy simple projects. After some internet research, I came up with a plan. I decided that we’d buy several bookshelves from IKEA, assemble them and then trim them out so they’d look like built-ins. The interior design blogs say it’s simple. The photos of completed projects look amazing.
I’m on week 3 of this weekend project, I’ve been to Lowes 6 times so far, the project is significantly over budget and it doesn’t yet look amazing. Some of my trim work is short by a quarter inch. The nails (or dents from the hammer) have scarred the face of the trim and this project is taking for-e-ver. I’ve got high hopes that the final caulking and paint job will pull it all together and redeem my efforts when we finally wrap this all up.
I finished up last night (not with the project but with step 99 of 225) and I had this weird feeling. It was the dual feeling of being a little disappointed and satisfied at the same time. The bookshelves don’t look amazing and I wasn’t born with expert-level carpentry skills (disappointment/fantasy). On the other hand, I have an idea, it is harder than I expected, but I’m figuring out how to do it and getting a little better as I go. In the end, there will be bookshelves (satisfaction/reality).
Initially, the fantasy may look better in a design blog and in my head, but there’s something to appreciating the process and the skills gained along the way. It’s satisfying to be able to build something, even if it isn’t perfect. It struck me that this bookshelf project is something that I go through over and over again in different areas of my life. I have an idea of the way something will be and then I get started. Projects, relationships, motherhood, yoga therapy…it’s all way more involved than I imagined it to be and the skills needed take time to develop. Often, these things go over budget. There are some dings along the way. And that’s how it goes. Through the process we refine our skills and reach places we haven’t been before. It’s rare that this development matches the glossy photos we have in our heads.
In the end, I’m sure the shelves will be pretty good even if they aren’t design-blog worthy. The dings and scars can be covered up with caulk and might not be so visible, though I’ll know they are still there underneath the paint. When the project is finally done, Hazel will arrange and store her books and treasures on her shelves and the focus will shift. I’ll start to notice the contents of what’s inside those shelves and the imperfections around then edges less and less. The disappointment will fade and the satisfaction will take hold, and a few months down the line, I’ll start imagining my next weekend project.