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Posts Tagged ‘Mindfulness’

Yesterday I bought a table saw. I resisted this purchase for over a decade. While building the cottage, I used circular and radial saws. I have also used tile and jig saws, but when my son told me I needed a table saw to do the rip cuts on my vinyl plank flooring project, I balked. I was confident I could manage with a jig saw. And I did, for the few rip cuts required in the dining room and kitchen. But the hallway presented a challenge. Twenty-four, four-foot rip cuts. I did the first one with my jig saw and realized it was impossible to get the cuts straight and smooth.

Headed to Lowe’s, I did my best to quiet the ominous voice: “You’ll cut your fingers off!” Remember the movie, A Christmas Story? Remember the constant warnings Ralphie received? “You’ll shoot your eye out!!” That was pretty much what was going on in my head.

As I was unpacking the 10″ Craftsman table saw, I began to hear my father’s voice, “Don’t Touch! Don’t Touch!” As I turned the handle to raise the saw blade, my breathing got shallow, and my heart started to race. Gut wrenching fear. “Don’t Touch! Don’t Touch!”

I donned work gloves, sure that the blade would be so sharp it would cut off my fingers before I even knew what happened. Mind you, the saw was not plugged in. In fact, the cord was still encased in plastic and bound with a twist tie. I was not taking any chances that it might plug itself in, turn itself on, and come after my fingers!

The fear was so intense and so irrational that it astounded me. There was a part of me that was unpacking and assembling a much-needed power tool. There was another part–I’d say she was about four years old–that was reacting to her father’s admonitions to stay clear of HIS table saw. I know I was really young because in my mind, I could see a table saw high above me. I would need a step-stool to reach it. It seemed so big. The reality of MY saw, sitting there in front of me, was miniature and toy-like, by comparison.

There was a time when I would have said to myself, “Quit being so silly!” But I know better now. I am well acquainted with that fearful part of myself. She needs reassurance and understanding. She needs to feel protected and safe. I sat with her for a bit, reassuring her, calming her, and loving her. “I know Daddy said not to touch. We were young then. It was good for him to make us afraid. But we are grown up now. We can do this. We will be VERY careful. We will read the directions and follow the safety precautions. It’s okay. We don’t need Daddy to protect us. We know how to protect ourselves.”

So I did it. I ripped my first four-foot piece of vinyl plank flooring. Smooth and straight. Wow! So easy! Today I can’t wait for my capable, carpenter son to give me a thorough Safety Talk (via video chat from Montana) before I cut and lay the rest of the pieces.

I wonder just how many of my irrational fears were perfectly rational at one point in my life and then never got updated, much like an old software program looping in the background regulating a dial-up modem while I’m busy with a high-speed internet connection.

Updating internal software requires compassion and patience, not harsh disdain. Irrational? Now, yes. But not always. Honoring the original intention of the fear goes a long way toward releasing its hold. I’ll end with words I couldn’t image saying just a couple of days ago: “I own a table saw, and I know how to use it!”

This is me with my new saw … being as safe as my inner child needs me to be.

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