Thursday, July 04, 2013

Storage, A Piano, and Learning to be Kind to Myself

I don't need any more books. I don’t need to get more books simply so that the ones on the bottom shelves of my bookcase don't ruin one another. You know that books get ruined if you don't have enough of them on the shelf, right? Seriously, I need to decide whether to add another crate of loose materials or to stack some of the books atop one another, rather than side by side. 

But I kept thinking of the old Value Tales books that are tucked away, somewhere in our storage unit. Even though they are not in very good condition, I keep them for the content. I needed to know where and how to fit them into the bookcase space and,  besides, I just wanted to get them into our home space and out of our storage space.

I don't recommend off-site storage units, but we came to Baltimore from a five-bedroom house in rural Kentucky with an abundance of storage space in the garage and attic, as well as lots of living space. In addition to having a large house, both of us inherited plenty of "pack-rat" in our upbringing. We eliminated a lot of things for our relocation but we were not able to whittle down enough to transition to an apartment, without renting a little more real estate, ten miles from home. 

So, my son and I went to “storage” yesterday. We never found the Value Tales. But we found something in worse condition than those books: the storage unit itself. We found boxes with water damage, some still damp. Worse, we found what looks like some water damage on the cover for the keys of the piano…the piano that belonged to my father-in-law when he was a boy. The piano my husband has been missing so badly since we came to Baltimore.

My son and I tried to get in touch with management to look at the damage, but they were not answering their calls and although the office was open, we could find no one there. So we went home, and we will need to go back, along with my husband, to assess the damage and to get management to fix the roof.

After we went home yesterday, I kept catching myself using self-talk that was less than charitable. I was getting mad at myself for stupid little things, stupid little nothings, and finally I realized this was the “old me” popping up…that I have learned better than that. But where was it coming from?

I think I was blaming myself for the possible damage to my husband’s precious piano. If I had cleared out more at home, maybe we could have made room for it. Or perhaps I should have found out sooner that we could bring it here, even though we live on an upper floor (it was not allowed at our first apartment in Baltimore, unless you lived on the first floor). Or maybe if I had waited to have us move from one community to another, waited until we could get a first floor apartment here, maybe we would have brought the piano home from storage.

That was when I realized the folly of my runaway thoughts! If we had gotten a first floor apartment here - at least in any of the buildings on our street - we could have lost everything a couple of years ago when the creek flooded. We helped a neighbor move out after that flood and it wasn't pretty. 

Stuff just happens. Not everything that happens can be prevented. Wow, it’s amazing that I am still fighting that philosophy that was drilled into me when I was a child, “What could you have done to prevent this?” or, “How could we keep something like this from happening again in the future?”

It’s good to take care of our people and our things, but there is a balance to life. We need to do our duties, and we need to make decisions. But then, we need to let go.  We cannot control life. I don’t think we were ever programmed to control every circumstance.

If we have actually done something intentional that hurt someone, we need to seek forgiveness. But whenever we feel we may have contributed to a problem, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we also need to forgive ourselves.  We need to “let go and let God”.  Let God bring good out of evil. Let God love us.

As for the piano, it may be better off than I first thought. But, whatever the case, life and its lessons play on. 

Follow-up: We went back on Saturday and were delighted to learn that the piano plays as well as ever and only has minimal cosmetic damage. It was already old, with some cosmetic damage, so we are just happy that it is still good, musically. The owner of the storage facility repaired the ceiling, and the only other things damaged were some boxes, mostly empty...and the piano bench pad I made some years ago, which was in a box that got damaged. The piano books in that box were protected by the bench cushion.

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