Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Power of Can't

(This post is dedicated to Catherine, Mary, Kali, Edie, and Sophia, my girl-child grandkids)

After nearly three years of 24/7 companionship with my captain, I've found myself struggling with the long days of being without his company while he's off being Worker Man. I'm so used to being able to catch him for some quick feedback on a project I'm working on, or having the extra pair of hands in a particularly difficult reassembly of some boat bit, that I've found myself floundering occasionally over a particularly difficult problem. So it was today, as I stood there looking at the unbelievably heavy and unwieldy box containing our new air conditioner sitting in the back of New Boss' borrowed SUV. It wasn't really all that heavy at 72 pounds, not at least for a former gym nut used to lifting 90 on the weight machines. But let me tell you, 90 pounds on a nice, well-maintained gym machine is a lot easier to lift than 72 pounds of unbalanced air conditioner contained in a perfectly square cardboard box the exact length of my arms. Hmmmm.

Out came our nifty 150# max capacity hand cart that we used to haul groceries and beer in while cruising. This got the box from the back of the truck to the steps we climb to get on the boat. Hmmm.

Not wanting to send our newly acquired air conditioner to join the assortment of tools, hardware, and sunglasses in the water dockside, my first thought was, "I can't do this without risking the air conditioner or my back." Help was in order. I returned New Boss' truck and went to searching for Tim, figuring since it was break time he might be able to give me a quick hand before returning to work. His golf cart was parked in sight, but no Tim anywhere. Hmmm. "I guess I can't get it done today."

I headed back to the boat in hopes of corralling a dock mate but, alas, no fellow dock mates were to be found. "I can't" whispered through my subconscious again. I was frustrated, because it was supposed to be near 90° this afternoon and the one goal I had for the day was to have the A/C up and running before Worker Man came home from his long day working outside in the heat. Hmmm.

I was standing on deck looking down angrily at the offending object on the finger pier, one hand on hip, one hand holding onto the spare halyard we have tied to the stanchion to balance myself. Duh. Spare halyard. The one we use to lift the 75 pound dinghy. Duh.

I gathered up our ratcheting straps, bound the box with them, threaded the spare halyard through them and into a bowline and, with the help of our mast winch and my favorite winch handle, had the air conditioner on deck and positioned port side in about 3 minutes flat. In fact, it turned out to be the easiest part of the install, as cutting, fitting, and fastening the monstrosity of insulated flex duct really kicked my butt for the next four hours.

I try not to belabor the issue of the gender gap, especially on this blog where we try hard to leave politics aside, but the air conditioner incident brought forward in my thoughts all the very many, very recent times I've heard my female compatriots utter the words, "I can't."  I can't go cruising because I'll never learn to sail. I can't get my captain's license because I'm not smart enough. I can't fix my water pump because I don't know how. I can't leave this job I hate because I don't have enough money. I can't, I can't, I can't. Those two simple words are the some of the most powerful words in the world. They belittle their speaker. They strike hope from the spirit. They cut dreams down at the knees.

I'm the first one to acknowledge I have a leg up because I was born to a creative mother, an engineer father who taught me well, two older motor head brothers, and I've had the unspeakable fortune to be with an encouraging and supportive partner for 44 years. But the reality is, you can. So next time you hear the words "I can't" in your mind, stop and regroup. Find help if you need it, seek encouragement if you can find it, but keep moving and change your "I can't" to "I can." I promise you that the success of accomplishment will be the sweetest victory you've ever experienced.


Unknown said...

Great Post Deb. Showing this to my other half the minute I get home!

Actually - She Can, I just need to get out of the way and let her...

lakepapa said...

So very true. Great post.

Unknown said...

Post a picture of the installation, if you get a chance. I am curious to see how you got the window unit in and what you used the flex duct for. Great post.

Sarah said...

Very well written. Nice job.

Melinda Rose said...

What an inspirational and encouraging post, thank you very much for sharing your story. I am glad to hear how you tackled your difficulties. How that box was so heavy for you, but how you believed that you could find a way. This is a great post and really has put me in a positive "I can do it" attitude!

Melinda Rose @ Phoenix South HVAC

Ambrose said...

Hey Deb, I don't know how many times I've had to re-learn this lesson myself. Your story struck home with me, because I've some air conditioner woes of my own. Those look easy to install, but the sheer size of them makes it difficult to get your arms around one completely. Last time I installed one, I dropped it but was lucky because it still worked after.