We handymen, for all we’re worth, are not exempt from the occasional moment of staring up at the stars glistening in the infinite sky and pondering life’s worth.   Whilst planing down a door, slivers of Victorian pine piling up like snowflakes around my feet, I too have contemplated my existence with thoughts of ‘There must be more than this.’

Because there is, isn’t there?  Despite my reliance on my fellow human’s instinctive desire to feather their nests, I can’t help but recognise that perhaps some of these nests are already feathered enough.

That medicine cabinet with the built in lighting, double sided mirrors and integrated toothbrush holder is indeed lovely, but are you telling me you couldn’t get by with the one you already had?  Perhaps that beloved IKEA shelf does look better six inches higher, but has your quality of life improved significantly?  I like dogs too, I’m just not convinced that yours needs its own room.

Sometimes, for those of us fortunate enough to live in this middle-class, western society, it seems like a clear case of The-more-you-have-the-more-you-want.

One client of mine, for whom I’ve worked several times over the past three or four years, sold their lovely four-bedroom house – sparse, not overly decorated or cluttered – for a much larger four-bedroom house because they were expecting a second child.  The houses were practically identical, but the new one has three bathrooms, larger bedrooms, a study, a dressing room, an enormous utility room and an out-building known as the ‘Man Cave’.

In a brief conversation with the husband, I learned that they had tripled their mortgage to live there.  Tripled!  He works for one of the big banks in the City so I had to assume that the new mortgage still fell within his budget.  But even the way he said the word ‘tripled’ simmered with pangs of regret.  Not so much about the money, more about the necessity.  Did they really need the larger house?

I’m not being critical of people’s lifestyle choices.  I, too, live in a house that is certainly larger than my family of three needs.  And, yes, I often take for granted what I have.

But could I have chosen alternative ways to spend my days besides making people’s homes look better when my own is in various stages of decay?  Of course.  And I often do.  That’s why I write.  That’s why other people play the piano, or knit, or breed Schnauzers, or make up recipes, or dance, or coach football, or sit on the PTA, or daydream.  We are not what we do and what we do is not who we are.  But we choose how we live.

I don’t regret my decision to do this job.  I’m in a different office every day with a different employer requesting different tasks.  I’ve never fallen into a handyman rut because there isn’t one.  Ultimately I’ve simply sought out the same thing everyone else seeks: happiness.

I’m not really looking for answers, just putting it out there.  And I don’t have time to sit and wonder too long.  I have to go replace someone’s doorknobs.

 

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