I don’t know if it’s COVID fatigue or Climate Moroseness or something else, but I’m starting to fret and frazzle about doing things rather than doing them. I realize I need to get on the roof for something and suddenly I’m apprehensive about getting on the ladder. My printer is acting up and my sink drains slow. Rats have resurrected the bowling alley in my attic and Tesla has just emailed me that my solar panels have quit. And maybe none of these things is insurmountable but if enough of them pile up together, they gather emotional lint and torpor and suddenly I feel incapable of doing any of it.
I’ve never been a real go-getter, of course. Even if I was embarking on a new project using skills I already have, I would feint at it for a while before I got moving. I make a Christmas card every year and yet I circle around it for weeks before I finally sit down and make it happen, and it always happens, and I’m always surprised.
And it’s not like I’ve ever been terribly useful around the house. Still, there are things I know how to do. I can paint. I know the techniques and I have a steady hand and I know what order to do things. I’m pretty good at it, too.
But then the other day I discovered one of the windows in our tower has rotted out at the bottom and I’ll be dogged if it doesn’t turn out the whole window needs to be replaced. Which is not cheap. And when someone came out to have a look, he noticed that all the south- and west-facing windows are looking a little vulnerable. The wood is bare in spots and just aching to rot out. No sooner had this been pointed out than it commenced to rain absolute buckets for weeks on end.
Which, to be sure, we are very happy about. But.
In the middle of the night as I listen to the pounding rain, deep into my unproductive monkey mind, I can almost hear the fungi rumbling through my windows then and there. Like, if I don’t do something about sanding and repainting them by noon the next day, my windows will sag into mush. But I have to be able to remember how to take the windows out. Set up sawhorses. Find the paint. See if any of my brushes still bend. Nothing hard, but at three a.m. it all seems too much.
Then I thought about my friend Leslie.
Leslie does everything. If there’s something at her house that needs fixing, she fixes it. She’ll spread seven yards of mulch in her garden between dinner and bedtime. She’ll clear the downspouts before winter, not during the first downpour. If she doesn’t have a tool, she knits it out of steel wool. Her to-do lists are all-done lists. Now that she’s retired, her whole neighborhood is liable to be shiny and unbollixed, just from leftover energy. She doesn’t dither. If she doesn’t know how to do something, she knows she can figure it out. She’s got skills and she’s got gumption.
And that’s when it came to me, at three a.m., in the celestial baritone voice-over of the Lord: Be the Leslie you want to see in the world! And when I woke up and had coffee, I got going.
Took the windows out. Set up sawhorses. Sanded. Primed. Painted. Repainted. Put them back in. Done. I beed the Leslie.
Of course, Leslie probably wouldn’t have accidentally used the high-gloss paint on the satin-finish window. Leslie absolutely wouldn’t have tried to put the window in backwards even though one side is white and the other side is red. And Leslie would have had it all done before breakfast. Five years ago.
But still. I beed the Leslie.