Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The cracked post

One of the posts on our front porch is cracked beyond repair. It's been that way since we moved in nearly four years ago. Despite my best efforts, I can't get it to look like it's not cracked. It has become an impossible task. Yet every year I break out complaints to my husband, followed by spackle, a trowel and a gallon of white house paint. It has become a tradition, really. Every spring, I repair. Then, every winter it falls apart again. After months of standing tall again the elements, the cracks in the post begin to show again. Slowly but surely, we are reminded that it is damaged.

For some reason, I find this post situation incredibly frustrating. I just want the post to be fixed. I don't want to have to continue to perform a "patch job" every six months in an effort to make it look like it isn't broken. Despite my best efforts, no amount of patching will ever fix what is likely broken beyond repair.

After a harsh winter, the post was looking especially terrible last week as I opened the front door to gather a package from the front porch. As I began to survey the damage with my overly discriminating eye, I realized something: I am the post. With its deep cracks and peeling paint, I couldn't help but see our similarities that currently hang out there for anyone to see. I'd rather those things weren't on display, but it seems that they are--that's just the truth of the matter. I ran my fingers over those deep gouges, realizing that the post wasn't just about the post; it was about me.

I cover up my cracks with spackle and paint too--but that does not negate the fact that deep down, the cracks exist. Like anything else, standing tall against the harsh winds and punishing winter have left me battered and weathered like the cracked post. I look at the post and feel a sense of urgency: I would hate for anyone to see that post and think it is a reflection of me. It would, for some reason, be unbearable to consider that someone might judge me for having a cracked post on my front porch. I instinctively went downstairs to grab my spackle and paint to prevent that situation from playing out in my front yard.

Standing in front of the shelving unit in the basement, feeling the cool concrete against my bare feet, I paused. It was probably just a moment, but it felt like an eternity. Thoughts began swirling through my head.

What's the worse that could happen?

What would be so awful about someone--anyone--seeing the cracks?

At what point do I realize that I'm fighting a losing battle?

Like the post, I realized that fixing the cracks isn't about patching them up--it's about working to heal them from the inside. The post is probably rotten inside and needs to be replaced. But for me, it isn't quite so cut and dry. Fixing my cracks is about making the right choice to have a chance to heal myself on the inside. Like any choice, though, the right one is not usually the easy one. But anything in life worth having always involves hard work.


Brian Miller said...

nice...some great wisdom in this post...and we all have those cracks...and i think at somepoint we all try to hide them...

Joybird said...

I agree with Brian that there is some wisdom here. But what strikes me and I just love is that when you realized the post was you, you became frantic to fix it before the neighbors came to the same conclusion. That made me smile wryly in comraderie. How often is my first reaction to a crack in me, "did anyone see that?"

emily wierenga said...

oh friend... the fact that you paused; that you let the world see your cracks... there is such healing in this, for we're all covered up with paint, longing to be real with one another. a beautiful analogy. perfect for imperfect prose. so glad you linked!

Cathy said...

Your peeling white post gives me the courage to show you mine. Thank you.


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