I was originally going to post about a different topic, but circumstances have proposed another discussion point. Today, I want to talk about what it means to be resilient. It’s a concept that matters to me since there have been many situations in life where resiliency was required of me. I don’t think of myself as strong or particularly emboldened when life goes upside down, but there have been moments where I’ve had to just suck it up and move forward.
I am watching some pets for an ex-neighbor who owns a winery on a few good acres of land. He and his family are on vacation and I am renting his residence. I say “renting” because this isn’t exactly a vacation and I’m taking care of five animals, watering plants, checking on things, and just making sure I don’t break anything. So, in a sense, I am paying some type of price. But I usually enjoy these times because I get some sought-after solitude.
Believe it or not, keeping track of five animals isn’t the most stressful part. For the most part, caring for these animals is straightforward. You set out the food, fill up the water bowl, and make sure to show them some love. After all, their owners are gone and they are no doubt a little confused.
But I really think that maintaining the house proves to test my mettle the most. While I like the house, it does have its flaws. There is no central air conditioning and it’s pretty much late spring verging on summer. Temps in the house are elevated by the afternoon and there’s only a few ways to cool the interior. I have ceiling fans and I can open some windows. I am almost certain the owner could install A/C, but I have a feeling that the lack of central cooling is by design.
This house also seems to be a fly magnet. So far, I haven’t been able to find a fly swatter, which indicates I suck at finding things or the inhabitants of this house welcome flies as if they were neighbors. And then . . . the toilets. The first-floor toilet is pretty much the reason I’m typing this post up. It tested my resiliency.
Let’s start from the beginning. When I first came to the house after a long shift at work, everything seemed fine. I went into the bathroom and noticed that their ugly shower mat was soaked. In my head, I thought, Okay, someone must have showered before leaving. I thought it to be a little odd, but at the time, my brain couldn’t connect the symptom with the problem. I moved on.
Later that night, I used the bathroom for the first time. I flushed the toilet. This was the part where I knew something was off. The shower mat was still soaking wet. It was like a sponge absorbing moisture. I never liked their shower mat; it feels more like a shaggy carpet and looks ugly. It’s more functional in the landfill if you ask me.
It was then that I realized the crux of the issue, something even worse than a damp plane of shaggy rug. The toilet, to my horror, was leaking out the back. In the scant space behind this plumbing nightmare, there was already a pool of toilet water. It was then that I understood nearly everything. I understood how the mat remained so wet. If it had been soaked when I first came to the house, that meant there’d been an issue for hours.
The water dripped profusely down the back and the puddle continued to spread toward the shower mat. Obviously, there’d been some type of incident before I even came over. To make matters worse, the toilet continued to run long after I’d flushed. I couldn’t walk away from this because two things would have happened: (1) a lot of water would have been wasted and (2) the puddle was only going to grow.
But, I’m not a plumber. I guess I could unclog a toilet if the need ever comes. Other than that, I know next to nothing. In fact, I had to go online to reacquaint myself with the life-saving shutoff valve which I turned in order to stop the flow of water to the toilet. To my delight, it actually worked. The water stopped, but I still had a puddle of tainted water on the floor.
I must have cussed like a sailor. It’s my way of coping with disaster. The worse my disaster is, the more colorful the language. So as I grumbled, I got a bunch of paper towels and tried to mop up the mess. In addition, I had to remove the shower mat. At the time, it was soiled and it disgusted me. I put it in a trash bag and have since just left it to wither and die. I hope they decide not to keep it.
I called my dad for some advice and chatted up my friend mostly to get some spiritual support. The thing is, I did feel panicked. I felt some consternation and fear. Certainly, my stress levels elevated. I could have done without this incident. The reason I talk about this here is because I think I was at least a little resilient. To me, resiliency is pushing on despite the pain, fear, or sorrow one’s life may find. It means choosing act rather than succumbing to paralysis. It means making a move and not necessarily waiting around for someone to take the lead.
In that incident, I remained as calm as I could. Had this happened at my own house, I’d have been fine. But the fact that this happened at a house that was not my own made matters tremendously worse. Imagine breaking something valuable at someone else’s house. Repaying for the damage would hurt much less than the disapproval the other person might show. Ugh, it’s an icky feeling.
Anyway, I cleaned up the mess as best I could. I stopped the water from running. I vowed to simply use the other toilet until this one could be fixed. As of now, I still don’t have a solution for the defective toilet. I’ve been able to take the lid off the toilet and examine how the drippage may be happening. Still, I’ll need some expert advice.
It may seem silly, but there might have been a time when a dripping toilet at someone’s else house would have chewed me up and spit me out, leaving me a mess. What I’ve come to realize is that, while feelings are important, they are also not the final word. To be resilient is to act despite negative feelings. Despite anxiety, you can still be resilient and do what needs to be done.
Oddly enough, an excerpt from a song by Superchick comes to mind.
“And no matter how you feel
It’s what you do that matters.”
Essentially, that’s what I’m saying here. In the past, I’ve allowed fear, anxiety, and other feelings control what I end up doing. And it doesn’t even have to be catastrophic. It can be a small thing like a toilet going out of control. But if you breathe, Google toilets and their parts, express your situation with those who may comfort you, and take the first step toward resolution, then you are practicing resiliency.
It can be hard, though. For sure, I’m not saying I’m perfect. I am not always resilient. There are times I give up and walk away when I should make a move. Many are the times where I should have said something, but chose to edit myself into silence. But maybe if I can learn to shutoff the water supply to the toilet in emergencies, I can also learn resiliency. In fact, anyone can.
Resiliency is not an art; it’s a practice. Despite our struggles, we can practice it and learn to thrive. Feelings may be strong, but what we do has an even bigger impact. I encourage anyone reading to be resilient—to face this life stronger than how you feel.