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04/21/2003 Archived Entry: "Cabinet appointments"
THE LAST FEW DAYS I'VE BEEN INSTALLING KITCHEN CABINETS IN MY CABIN.. This isn't exactly a job for a mere girl, and I'm feeling more mere by the minute. More sore and tired, too. But gratified. I love that feeling that comes of doing something I wasn't sure I could do. And besides, after nearly two years of staring at cans of refried beans and bags of rice, it's a relief to get those puppies out of sight!
During this time, I've let important anniversaries go by without comment. Waco's 10th. The 60th of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. And the 228th of the battles of Lexington and Concord. Important memories. Vital warnings. Powerful inspirations.
Being preoccupied with simple things like sweat and muscle aches and whether or not I can square up that last stubborn 1/16 inch between the cabinet and the wall -- and how lovely and clean the new cabinets look on the wall -- reminds me of the dilemma people of conscience always face: how much we must give to freedom and justice and how much of our lives we can embrace just for ourselves.
Preoccupation with the personal can be a complete copout, as it is for millions of TV babies out there. Or it can be a much-needed form of renewal between periods of intense outward-directed activity. Or, for some freedom lovers, the very act of "doing our own thing" can be political -- an act of protest, or (viewing it more positively) a declaration of what freedom is all about. After all, how can we really fight for freedom if we aren't fully committed to living in freedom? The problem is knowing what our own motivations are when we "do our own thing," not to kid ourselves when we really are copping out, and to find the right balance point between what we do for ourselves and what we do for our cause, our children, our grandchildren, our gods, our ideals.
Putting up cabinets may seem like a lousy example of "doing my own thing." But I really am doing it just for me, sweat, bruises, and all. Yeah, if I lived in a really free society, I'd choose to make lots of money and hire somebody else to put up my cabinets. But lovingly performed labor is also good for the soul, and if I sat around eating bon bons while a couple of big bruisers did my kitchen, I'd miss something of value. Something very satisfying. As I hoist those clunky 50-pound monsters to the wall, it makes perfect sense to me why America's oldtime Jeffersonian yeoman farmers understood and valued their independence much more than masses of urban specialists do.
Ultimately freedom is a do-it-yourself project.
Posted by Claire @ 10:48 PM CST