I am sitting at a desk covered in plaster dust. The doorway to my right leads to a room gutted to the bones. I have had multiple conversations with neighbors, who come near to see what all the commotion is about. They see the dumpster full of wood. The buckets of plaster. The yards of old flooring being ripped out of the house. And they ask me a very sensible question. “So, where did you learn to this?”
I always smile big. Cause my answer always receives the same response. “Oh, I have no idea what I am doing.”
It’s true. I have never torn down plaster. I have never ripped up a floor. And more importantly, I have never drywalled a room. I have never refinished an old wooden floor. I have never installed cabinets. There is not a single portion of this endeavor that has muscle memory. But as I tear down what was, I am not anxious.
When I was in college, I drove my ghetto van out of Chicago to hang with an old friend. While there, he needed to change his brakes. The sound of grinding metal from my front tires told me I was in dire need as well. I asked my friend if he would kindly do my brakes while he was at it. He said no. “No?” He said very simply, “You can do it man.” Now, I had many reasons why I couldn’t. I don’t have the right tools. “We can borrow them from the auto store.” I have never done this before. “Neither had I.” Every excuse was met with a shrug. And again, “You can do it man.”
To that point in my life, I had a very “I Can’t” mentality. I buckled easily. I would go to the edge of my experience and give up. I very easily accepted my limitations and called it a day. But on that day south of Chicago, with my van resting on a jack while I took apart my front brakes, I learned something crazy. I can. I can learn new things. I can attempt tasks beyond my experience. And I can succeed. So, I changed my brakes that day. And learned a lesson that is still paying dividends.
So, my kitchen is a shell. I still don’t have the right tools. And once again, I have no idea what I am doing. But I have no doubt I can learn. Worse comes to worse, I’ll ask a friend for help. But at the end of this whole thing, when my wife once again can have dishes and can put away groceries, and the kitchen is beautiful and nice, I will eat with a real big smile on my face. Because turning I Can’ts into I cans is awesome.