Resolutions are for the end.
When I consider the word “resolution,” I see the prefix “re” and the root word “solve.” This makes me think that I’m solving the problems of the past year again. It’s like I’m taking an inventory of all of the events and trying to figure out what they meant. Once a year passes and I internalize it, that’s my time for resolutions. That’s when I come to terms to how I reacted, what I said, and even, who I was twelve months earlier. Every January, I think back to where I was the year before and see if I’ve made any progress.
I don’t remember exactly what I was doing a year ago today, but I’m sure it involved a ladder, rollers, Robitussin, and few gallons of semi-gloss. The details are sketchy. I remember getting sick, really sick. I caught a chill and kept it, shivering for days at a time. I would describe it as “corpse cold,” and while I felt it, I thought about how the body gets cold after death and wondered if what I was feeling was literally the life leaving my body. Fortunately, I went to the doctor, and I was wrong. I had only caught last year’s edition of the flu, a virulent strand that terrorized the entire country for six months, but still, it was only the flu. So in the middle of all of the sickness and snow, I decided that a change of scenery would help keep me from feeling so down. Color affects mood. Psychology 101. Remember? So I decided to paint my house in bright summery colors. Maybe a teal, or a minty green to lighten the winter blahs? Maybe I could liven it up enough to get a fair price if I decided to put it on the market?
After more than ten years, I was tired of where I was living. My wife and I were driving forty minutes one way to get to work. When I shared my plans with her, she was all for it. But her plans were much more elaborate. She explained them to me in detail: new flooring, painting the living room and kitchen, base boards, molding, painting cabinets, pressure washing the back porch, building a front porch… The list goes on. I was not sure that I could do these things even if I was in tiptop shape. And I wasn’t. I hadn’t taken on any projects like this since I was a teenager. And even then, my experience was limited to working as an assistant carpet layer and helping my family hang wallpaper. But either way, my mind was made up. The change would either cure me or do me in.
Still hacking and shivering when I climbed the ladder, I started by painting the living room. We chose a light blue, and figured that would be a good starting point to build the rest of the renovation around. I opened the blinds and drank in the Vitamin D. Outside the air was below freezing, but the sunlight was yellow and warm like melted butter. It was beacon to a brighter shore and about the only thing I had going for me at the time. So I leaned in and let the work shape me. After the painting, came the baseboards and the molding. I measured and cut, and re-measured and cut again. I kept cutting right corners when I needed a left and vice versa. The miter saw is a mystery that I will never understand. I’m just grateful to be sitting here now typing with all ten fingers. Then, the cabinets, this involved taking the doors down, sanding, and painting in places only a contortionist could reach. After that, I pulled up the old floors…
As I worked through the winter and into the spring, I realized that renovation is the process of making new again. In contrast, restoration is just the process of putting back what was lost. To renovate is to join creativity with dedication. A true renovation has no nostalgia or regret. When I renovate, I don’t consider any past glories. I simply take what I have and make it new. A leaner version of myself emerged after a month of climbing ladders and lifting furniture. As I did the flooring, muscle that I had not seen since my twenties reappeared, aching at first then solidifying my arms and shoulders. In the late spring, the sun gave my complexion a touch of bronze. And I slept the deep sleep of being physically exhausted. The work kept me so busy that I spent less money and built up my savings. I didn’t think about it. It just accumulated. Also, I watched less TV. Although the work was monotonous, I was able to think without being constantly disturbed. As I improved my home, the work was also renovating me.
Call it “deathbed religion” if you want, but I began reading the Bible when I was sick. As the flu ravaged my body and the snow fell, I found the Book of Job very relatable. I was not having it taught to me but actually thinking about what they meant for myself. The words, “He wounds, yet He binds up. He shatters, but His hands heal,” still carry a lot of weight with me. I planned on reading the Bible through last year, but I had to reread many parts. As of this writing, I’ve covered all of the New Testament and most the Old Testament except for Leviticus and several of the Minor Prophets. I’m sure I’ll write more about this in future entries. Reading the Bible has renovated me in ways that I can’t explain. I’m not a priest or a preacher. In all honesty, I believe the term “enlightened rogue” is my most apt description. Suffice to say, I have faith that I act on. I make mistakes, owning up to them and making amends as I go. I “live and die daily.” In this way, I am being renovated.
Looking back, I resolve that the past year was a year of renovation. After overcoming sickness, it was time to set goals and ride them out. I have optimism when I am put in uncertain situations. Last fall, we sold our home for a profit and upgraded to a nicer one that is closer to our jobs. But there are still rooms to paint, plumbing to tweak, flowerbeds to weed, and that’s about it. A year later, I am here again: a few gallons of antique white, brushes, rollers, and a ladder, minus the chills and Robitussin. I’m still making renovations, but I am making less of them in a different place, a better place…progress.