That One Screw 2/5/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Of late, I find myself putting together a lot of furniture. Today I put what I expect to be the final two pieces for a while, specifically a television stand and a kitchen island. Much to my surprise, the television stand went together easily with few problems save the fact that I need more hands. When you live alone, it would be easier to put these things together if you were an octopus. The second failed miserably.

With a very heavy stone top, the design is simple enough, a metal frame with two supporting bars. The strongest figure in geometry is the triangle; you see them frequently such as, for example, in the framework of bridges. This piece was supposed to have two, but unfortunately, the support bars were cut wrong. They were too long to screw into the bars where they were designed to be attached. Without these cross support bars, the island stands, but it is highly unstable and, with the excessively heavy top, rather dangerous at that. Currently I am considering what I should do about this. Being who I am, returning it just won’t happen, but I’ll figure something out.

After two beds, a cat tree, a television stand, a desk, a chair and more, I’ve come to realize one thing. There is always something that goes wrong. There’s always that one screw that just doesn’t fit, or go in straight, or is the wrong size, or is missing…something. My desk has a drawer that is a little bit crooked and always sticks because that screw just didn’t want to work. By the time I decided I didn’t need it, the head had stripped, so it’s sitting in the track crooked and catching.

Maybe that screw has a purpose. Maybe it’s God’s way of reminding us that no matter how masterful we feel we are becoming at following directions and constructing furniture, we’re still flawed. Maybe it’s the manufacturer’s way of encouraging us to buy a second one in the hopes that we’ll get it right and just put the defective one in the basement. Maybe it’s because life isn’t supposed to be easy because it would be dull if everything worked out just the way it’s supposed to.

Maybe it’s just me.

Sometimes I feel like that odd screw. It often feels like I don’t quite fit right, like maybe I don’t really belong in this grand design of life. I do my best, though. Maybe I create that sticking point, but for what it’s worth, I try to do my part and hold on as best as I can, even if it’s not quite the right way. But still, I try. At this point, I feel as if I’ve been damaged, like I’ve been stripped as well, beyond repair. I do wish I was the source of pride for somebody, anybody, but it’s just not my destiny. I’m that one that makes people cuss, wonder what is wrong with me, that they try to ignore but somehow never can.

My life is filled with those screws that just don’t seem to work right. As odd as it sounds, everybody has those things in their lives that just don’t quite fit, things that just don’t go the way they should. Some people give all of the appearances of a perfectly constructed life. Their social media pages are nothing but smiles and family adventures, their children are clean and doing well in school and learning to play instruments, and it’s just perfect. But looking at my kitchen island, it looks perfect. It’s just beautiful with straight strong legs, perfect angles, free from defects provided you don’t look too closely. If you do, you’ll realize it’s standing straight because it’s leaning on a wall, and that the two support beams, while attached at the tops, are not attached at the bottom. Push on it a little bit, and you’ll feel the wobble that will eventually bring the island down.

If your life isn’t perfect, you’re not alone. It’s easy to think there’s something wrong with us because we compare it to the veneer of others, but we’re all flawed, and we all have our challenges. Take solace in this. You’re not anymore alone than I am. We all need help from time to time. Even those who would judge us for our imperfections are nothing more than experts at masking their own, and their concerns of your flaws is their way of hiding their terror of their own. We’ll get threw this. Our drawers may stick, and someday we might suffer a collapse, but if we do we’ll get through it, and rebuild, better, stronger, and closer to perfect.

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