Stairs Win Every Time. Gravity? Don’t Even Bother.

By Patrick McNerthney 

This weekend I went up to Sequim, Washington (a real place, go ahead and take 30 seconds to Google it) to help Pop rebuild some stairs. Two stairs, to be exact. Guess how long it took? That is correct, 10 hours. Nice work.

Now you may think this is largely due to my storied history of ineptness with tools/geometry/lifting heavy objects/fixing things and while with no sense of irony at all I would admit in most cases you’d be hitting the proverbial nail on the head, in this case you’re forgetting the fact that my father in-law and two brother-in-laws came along for the ride. Which I told you earlier, but you forgot. Those three characters are super good at construction stuff, considering they grew up in a CONTRACTOR family.

(I don’t know what this is a picture of.)

But it turns out stairs are really hard to build because you have to engineer the solution through something called a “riser.” Risers support the stairs from underneath and determine both the steepness of the climb/descent, as well as the length of the stride one has to take to ascend/descend. Oh, they also must support a heck of a lot of weight.

In other words, build the riser wrong, and you’ll be falling/tripping/struggling or possibly crashing down in a heap of 2×4’s (what are those again?) and nails.

Thus, after three hours we were 85% done with our work. The final 15% took SEVEN HOURS, with every hour dedicated to “riser construction. For the record, I did a lot of standing around, fetching tools, and hauling debris away. Oh! And a lot of management. After all, someone has to be in charge.

(My kind of construction-it’s all about the hat.)

Nonetheless, we prevailed, no one got hurt, the stairs actually work (we even put in a railing), and now I can forget this ever happened. (If I take to drinking strong drink.)

So what’s the point of all this? It goes back to that “engineering a solution” bit. Here’s the thing. Problems have solutions (my pop’s stairs rotted = we build new stairs). SITUATIONS are things we have to live with…like gravity (the whole reason we need stairs in the first place). 

The confusion happens when people try to solve a situation instead of a problem. For example, you can’t SOLVE social isolation any more than I can SOLVE gravity – they are both situations we have live with, THEY ARE NOT PROBLEMS.

But the anxiety and depression your residents or loved ones experience BECAUSE of social isolation are certainly problems, just like the fact my dad needs to be able to reach the back door (via stairs) to get into his house is a problem.

The good news is we can solve for both. Well wait, Fine Art Miracles (FAM) can help the elderly, children with challenges, and anyone needing help with routine tasks find joy, self-worth, confidence, relevance, and mastery through creative expression. (I can only build you two stairs in 20 hours…my brother-in-laws not being there to help increases the time exponentially). 

It turns out Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Multi-Sensory Sessions, and ART2GO Packages decrease inhibition and loneliness because the act of making something from nothing increases connection, communication, confidence, and our understanding of WHY WE MATTER. In fact, creative expression is a much more elegant solution for anxiety and depression than your average bear understands…wait a second…that’s a problem, AND THESE BLOGS ARE PART OF THE SOLUTION.(Because you can read much better than the average bear.)

Okay I have to stop now, my mind is literally bending. But you should drop FAM a line today to get started. 

Well, I have to clean up. I’m still a mess from standing around watching those guys work. And I’m pretty sore for some reason. Maybe I wagged my finger too much as I bossed people around and threw something out?  See why I don’t manage construction crews….




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