On being ... fixated
I’ve had my condo two years this month. The woman I bought from was the original owner. She had the foresight to buy two storage lockers. The locker room is quite nice -- it’s clean, dry, and well-lit. I had a storage locker in the basement of my apartment and I used it, but I always dreaded going down there. It was dark and dreary, and the boxes of mouse poison in every corner reminded me of things I didn’t like being reminded of.
When I moved, I promised myself I’d make better use of my storage lockers, especially given the luxury of having two. So, I bought big, see-through stackable bins for things like holiday decorations and craft stuff and proper file storage boxes for my business-related things. All the plastic bins and file boxes went into one locker.
My second locker was a different story. Because one of my bedroom dressers didn’t fit in my new bedroom, I put it in the second locker. I figured I’d keep my summer clothes there during winter and visa versa. But, it turned out I had enough closet space in the condo for all my clothes, so I didn’t need the dresser for them.
I kept some sailing gear and linens in it, but that was about it because little else fit easily in the drawers. Over time I ended up piling things on top of the dresser and leaning things against it. Soon the locker looked like a closet you shove items into and quickly push the door closed before something falls out.
The fact I was wasting the extra space I was so excited about when I moved in was weighing on my mind and, in some respects, dragging me down. So, with the second anniversary of the move coming, I decided I should do something about the situation. I knew the first step was to get rid of the dresser.
It took some hunting, but eventually I found a charity furniture bank that picks up larger items (like dressers). Finally, this past Monday I phoned them. I was caught off-guard when they offered to pick it Thursday morning, but I agreed. Suddenly, after two years of dithering, it was full steam ahead on getting organized. I had to move all the stuff out of the locker to get the dresser out and I had to figure out how I’d store things once it was gone.
I decided shelving for storing bins and boxes would be best, but the locker’s an odd shape, so not just any shelves would do. After lots of shopping around, not to mention measuring and sketching out possible configurations, I chose some shelves from Ikea. Getting them home took a couple trips and -- given where I bought them -- some assembly was required. Luckily I had the right tools.
By Friday night the dresser was gone, the shelves were in, I had sorted through my stuff, getting rid of many items I didn’t use, and I had organized what remained. It seemed like quite a whirlwind, but when I was done I felt as though a load had been lifted from my shoulders. Sure, it took me two years to figure out what I wanted, but once I decided, it all came together quickly.
On Saturday a friend called to see whether I had a particular tool. For about a month she’d been looking at different ways of storing her bike. Apparently she finally decided and bought a rack. She had started installing it in her garage but ran into a problem and she needed a particular tool. Unfortunately, I didn’t have what she was looking for. She mentioned she’d ask other friends.
On Sunday I stopped by to see how the installation went. Though she didn’t get her hands on the tool she thought she needed, she had gotten a bit further with the installation. She gave up, however, when she thought she might break the rack if she continued trying. Then she berated herself for becoming “fixated” on the idea of putting up a rack in the first place. Realizing she was just frustrated, I went to look at it. When I saw it, I realized I had just the tool she needed -- a wrench I had used to assemble the shelves.
I offered to go home and get the tool but she told me to forget it because it wasn’t important and it didn’t need to be done right away -- if at all -- because it was just something ridiculous she got in her head! Though I reassured her she’ll appreciate the rack once it’s up, she was too exasperated to agree.
Understanding the urge to implement a decision once you’ve finally made it (especially if you’ve been thinking about it for some time), I went home, got the wrench, and headed back to her house. When I arrived with a smile on my face and the tool in my hand, I simply said I had a bee in my bonnet and I was anxious to see whether we could finish it. Well, ten minutes later we had the rack up and the bike hung.
Afterward she thanked me, but again chided herself for fixating on the rack in the first place. I said I thought she was being a bit hard on herself. I reminded her I had spent the better part of the week “suddenly” attending to the storage locker that I had done nothing with for so long. Sure, I got a bit stressed out about it as I was putting the shelves together, but I kept focusing on the end result, which I saw as a triumph. (Maybe just a triumph over indecisiveness, but a victory all the same!)
The next day she called to tell me that she likes the bike rack -- it was her way of saying thanks. I was happy for her and I know it’ll come in quite handy. Now, if I could just convince her to stop seeing goals as fixations, I think she’d enjoy more of life’s little triumphs.
© 2009 Ingrid Sapona