For the past two weeks, my life has been an adventure in plumbing. Over the years, the plumbing in my old house had filled with the debris of years and years of water flowing through old black pipe. The flow of hot water to my kitchen sink had decreased to a trickle. And when my family asked if I would host Thanksgiving dinner again this year, I put my foot down. “Not without hot water in the kitchen,” I said. Unexpectedly, I realized that anything you do, that life is like plumbing.
My son looked at the problem, opened and shut valves, and studied the pipes in my house. Then he gave me the news. To fix the hot water in the kitchen he had to fix the flow into the hot water heater. To fix the flow into the hot water heater he needed to fix the cold water shut off—for the entire house. And the bill for all the bits and pieces cranked higher and higher. Yikes.
“I can’t afford a plumber to do all that,” I said.
His answer: “I can do it.”
I imagined the mess and the long hours of no running water. “I’m a caregiver,” I said. “We can’t go without water for more than an hour or two.”
“No problem,” he said.
The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.Tony Robbins
My son came to me a few days later with a plan. He’d re-do the whole house’s plumbing! He wanted to install a plumbing manifold. The water in our county is full of minerals and leaves deposits on the plumbing. He envisioned a filtered, all plastic system where we could shut off water to only one specific water use in the house at a time.
Two weeks ago, we went shopping for parts and pipes and fittings and valves. Ouch. Life is like plumbing. The bill was larger than what I wanted but; I reminded myself, not as large as it could be.
After we’d done the shopping, I thought to ask my son if he’d ever installed a plumbing manifold before. No, he hadn’t. But he was confident he could. “I’ve never failed at anything I’ve tried.”
I’m always doing things I can’t do. That’s how I get to do them. Pablo Picasso
The first weekend, my son spent a good twelve hours a day for two days, cutting and replacing pipe. I was his gofer and second pair of hands part of the time. Life is like plumbing–hard work.
Part of the time I babysat while my daughter-in-law filled that role and helped my son do some heavy lifting.
Together we got all the inside plumbing done in one weekend. And true to his word, the water was off for less than two hours.
The New Plumbing
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.Henry David Thoreau
And the next day I had so much hot water in my kitchen sink that I washed every dish and pan and the dogs’ dishes and the…you get the idea.
Then I did the laundry.
It turned out that he’d improved the water flow to the washer and dryer so much that when the washer spun the water out it overwhelmed the old drainage system. Yup, he said he could fix that too.
The second weekend he spent eight hours a day for two days. My new improved drainage system for the washer had to include a bathroom sink on the other side of the wall. While he was at it, he added a drain for a utility sink in my laundry.
He has another day’s work to do but part of that is moving the outlets for the washer and dryer to avoid stretching their cords to their max.
It always seems impossible until it’s done.Nelson Mandela
This whole experience made me realize a few things.
Change your thoughts and you change your world.Norman Vincent Peale
I changed my thoughts about how tolerable the water flow was in my kitchen and that began to change that part of my world.
It was hard, back-breaking work. But my son’s willingness to try new things, to research the options and solutions to various tricky issues, and to do the work got it done.
Difficult and meaningful will always bring more satisfaction than easy and meaningless.Maxime Lagacé
My son’s attitude and work ethic (though sometimes I worried he did too much) were inspiring and gratifying. I was proud that he got what I tried to teach him—to try, to do.
Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.Babe Ruth
Life is a series of parts, of connections and disconnections, of ninety degree turns and sometimes everything gets flushed down the drain. But you can change the way you think, change what you do, and try again.
The purpose of life is to believe, to hope, and to strive.Indira Gandhi
Life is like plumbing… don’t let the parts, the clogs, the flushing, get you down. Keep believing. Keep striving. Your life will be better for it.