Woulda Shoulda Coulda

By Patrick McNerthney 

Last summer I looked at our water heater and noted it was celebrating its 16th birthday. Yup, Sweet Sixteen! Now, while I tend to grow attached to major appliances, I begrudgingly had to admit that the right thing to do was to replace it. A call to the plumber confirmed the worst, as he stated: “Ten to twelve years is a good run if it’s been used heavily, so yeah, it’s time.”

After considering the associated costs – both financial and in whatever increments one measures inconvenience – I promptly blew the whole thing off. Which was a shame, given that six months later, a.k.a. Thursday, January 13th, my wife came home and got really mad at me for not noticing the 1-inch puddle of water emanating from the dripping tank, something I didn’t notice even though I’d been working merely inches away.

(I swear it only happened seconds before she got home.)

Thus, I called the plumber again, and this time he had some disconcerting news:

  • He was booked out until the end of February
  • Prices for hot water heaters increased by 40% over the course of the last few months

Fortunately, after listening to my snot-filled sobbing, he grew so disgusted that he said he’d squeeze me in on Monday, January 18th. So for a mere four days (instead of six weeks), we leaned heavily on our kitchen sink’s insta-hot water thingy, stove-warmed water, showers at the gym, and at my in-laws. 

Three things happen when you don’t have hot water:  

  1. You really appreciate hot water. 
  2. You think about what it would be like to not have any water at all and you begin to appreciate just having water. 
  3. You realize how much you take for granted.

But this isn’t a lecture on all the stuff we take for granted (first world problems!). This is a conversation, (granted, a one-way conversation, which may be the definition of “lecture”) about choosing not to prepare. 

Sometimes we don’t prepare, and our bet doesn’t pay off. (Or as my dad would say, “Hope is not a plan.”) Consider my almost-replaced-in-August water heater, or the person who can’t find his 2-in-1 snow shovel/ice scraper in the fall, blows off replacing it, and finds himself digging out the old Mini Cooper, buried under 6-inches of snow a few months later, forced to use his hands as a replacement shovel, and his credit card as a substitute scraper.

(Uh oh.)

Of course, improvisation is an important life skill, and kind of cool. For example, heating up a gallon of water on the stove yielded three gallons (one for each member of my family!) when combined with cold water, and the insta-hot-thing made the perfect amount to wash my face. Same with the snow-covered car: Hands and credit cards are surprisingly adept at digging through snow. 

But the truth is, using the proper resources we need (hot water!) and tools (2-in-1 snow shovel/ice scraper!) is way easier when we actually have them, because it allows us to do things on our schedule, rather than that of an inanimate object – or the weather for that matter. And that’s what preparation really is: Not work, not drudgery, but choosing to do things on our terms, rather than on those of things we can’t control.   

Fine Art Miracles (FAM) is here to help you battle social isolation on your terms. Caregivers of the elderly, children with challenges, and anyone who needs help with daily life  undoubtedly have existing tools and resources at their disposal – but creative expression may not be one of them. Our Art Therapy, Drama Therapy, Dance & Movement Therapy, Music Therapy, and brand-new Drumming & Exercise (whew!…don’t forget our ART2GO packages!) allow your residents and loved ones to experience the joy and refreshment that comes from simply making. Creative expression connects everyone (including caregivers) with feelings of confidence, self-worth, achievement, and relevance to the outside world. The perfect recipe to fight fear, anxiety, depression, and the loneliness that comes with social isolation. 

Plus, let’s face it, art is simply FUN. How many tools and resources out there are actually ENJOYABLE? Plumbers and 2-in-1 snow shovel/ice scrapers certainly don’t rhyme with fun! Please give us a holler or drop us a note and let’s get started

Guess what? I’ve been choosing not to prepare to buy a new car. My Subaru has been on its last legs for a year (same age as my old water heater), and while writing this I’ve realized it’s going to be much easier to shop for new cars while I still have one that works. Walking to the dealership just isn’t practical… 


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