7. Art and Morality

Simply Difficult


The simplest things are always the most difficult – it’s a principle that seems to reaffirm itself just about every time I undertake a project.


For the longest while our little dog, Puddles, had been confined to the backyard by one of those invisible fences, which consists of both a wire that runs around the perimeter of an area, and a receiver secured on the dog’s collar. When the dog gets too close to the wire, a signal is picked up by the receiver, and the dog feels a small electric shock. So far, it has worked to keep Puddles out of the street. But she’s a pretty smart little dog, and she knows when the system isn’t working. During the last six months the system has been out, and Puddles, well, she’s been enjoying the neighborhood.


Having heard a few recent concerns from the neighbors about her being in the street, it seemed important this weekend that I get the system back up and running. But it’s not an easy project to run that wire around the yard. I had to force myself to begin.


First, I had to go shopping: I went to a couple of places to buy some additional wire. And as a precaution I also bought some batteries for the receiver, which I already owned. None of this stuff is cheap. But I had to have it.


I installed the wire, which was a bit more difficult than I imagined. But it was done, and that was the hard part. I was ready to test the receiver. But for some reason I couldn’t figure out how to replace the batteries. So I called the factory, which by a miracle was open on Saturday at 4:50PM. Customer service told me I had purchased the wrong batteries for that receiver. Great.


Okay, I took a deep breath and figured this is where my Simply Difficult principle was going to apply. The batteries were a bit special, and I couldn’t just buy them at Eckerds. I could only find them at Radio Shack or Home Depot. And since I couldn’t make it to either one of those stores on Saturday, I had to wait until Sunday. Still no big problem: “just take the old batteries back on Sunday,” I said to myself, “and get right ones.” So that’s what I did.


When I got out of my car at Home Depot on Sunday, I couldn’t find the bag of batteries that I knew I had put in my car. Frustrated, I figured that I must have left the bag at home. So I bought the new batteries anyway and went back home to look for the bag. I couldn’t find the thing, and I looked everywhere.


It would’ve been okay if that bag had not also held the $60 receiver that I already owned. But it was so typical of my experience: being sure to keep everything together, I had put the receiver in the bag, along with the batteries, and now, I’d lost everything. I began to dig in.  I was emotionally committed, and now nothing was going to stop me from getting this damned system working.


Feeling sure that I must have left that bag on the roof of my car and that it fell off on the way to Home Depot,  I made the return trip, only hoping that along the way I might see my bag in the street. No such luck.


My heels now dug deeply in, I went to Home Depot – again — bought another receiver, and made the trip back home. Along the way I asked God these questions: “What is it that you want me to learn from this experience? Is there someone or something I’m supposed to meet or see? Surely, there was some meaning to all of this. Where was the beauty in all of this tangled mess?”


Well, I did my best to make light of a bad situation. It was dusk, and I turned on the radio, hoping for a song that might turn my spirit. And actually, for most of the trip home I felt fairly satisfied. The end-of-day light was beautiful, and I found some peace. I felt sure that this time I was finally going to get the system working.


Arriving at home once again, I quickly got out my screwdriver and some scissors and started the job of getting this receiver/collar ready. And then finally, $100 later, a miracle: the thing worked!


Satisfied but totally exhausted, I planned on at least returning the newly purchased batteries, which, as it turns out, didn’t even work in this new receiver. So I put them in another bag and took special care not to lose them like I had done once before. For extra safekeeping, I decided to put them in the console of my car. 


As I got into my car and reached for the console’s latch, a strange feeling came over me – sort of a déjà vu. And sure enough, when I opened the console, there, right on top, was the bag containing the old receiver and batteries. They hadn’t fallen off the roof after all. I guess I had just put them in there for safekeeping as well. All I could do was laugh. And that, I figured, was the thing I was to rediscover: my laugh.


Day 7 Guide:


Today, look for beauty in the tight knots of life. I realize that problems sometimes seem huge and insurmountable. But trust in the God whose beauty is bound even in life’s greatest difficulties.


© 2005, Levi Hill

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