Manual labour. I blame Adam and Eve.
You do know, right, that once you commit to something like painting a roof you can’t just back out? It’s a fact of life. Once you have verbally confirmed your commitment to a project of this calibre you must follow through. You have to. Especially when the painting party is made up of yourself and one other person.
So I shall afford you the opportunity to glimpse into the revelations and inspirations that can come from painting a roof. You, too, can throw yourself face-first into the hard-won glory of a completely painted roof.
Before resorting to techniques of distraction, I had to overcome my fear of heights. And I am generally NOT afraid of heights, but the combination of a rickety ladder together with the scorching furnace of a fiercely angled tiled roof and my lack of medical aid had pangs of terror coursing through my veins. Unfortunately, if I allow my imagination to roam free with a single disastrous idea à it tends to create headline stories in my mind. So not only was I shouting at my eyes, “DON’T LOOK DOWN”, I was also calming the headlines in my head, “Pastor’s daughter falls off roof” or “Freak accident in East London”… This was, of course, over-exaggerated by my father’s one liner of advice before he glided onto the other side of the roof, “If you feel yourself falling - drop the paint and hold on.” * big eyes, stifled gasp, headlines intensify *
Well, with summer fast approaching (despite the constantly emotional weather changes) I must say it is good to paint when there ARE clear skies. East London is known for its summer rainfall so you can have insane heat, icy wind and pouring rain all in one day. Gloriously surprising. NOT. However, we worked fast and efficiently in the 28 degree heat over two days. We, my dad and I, were a team to be reckoned with…. Bent backs, paint covered hands, oily sunscreen faces and bright smiles shining through pure exhaustion. * round of applause please *
Anyways, for your sympathetic smile I am going to share some of my thoughtful discoveries and ponderings. There were a few moments of profound revelation to be found in the bended back stance during those hours of each day. Perhaps they may add value to the way in which you view your roof…or life:
1) Ugly days. Yep, we all have them. Those days you wake up feeling like a hedgehog… or a thrown-out rag doll. It doesn’t always have to be related to your appearance, it can simply be an unexpected feeling of self-disgust which affects your entire day. The answer I propose is simple: get on the roof!
Take a picnic basket, sunscreen and your ipod. Dream a little. As you take in life from another perspective your ugliness will feel less ugly. Plus no one will see you, endure you or have to interact with your ugliness.
2) 2 coats. Took us two days to paint our roof once. Whatya say? A good first job is really worth it? It takes twice the effort, twice the time and twice the amount of money to do it twice. Hence, my dad and I painted thickly and with stunning precision once and once only. Got me thinking about how often we face life with a sense of “two coats”. We don’t give it our best shot. We make excuses, procrastinate, wait for better options, second-guess everyone and everything, fail to live like today could be our last day. The truth is that if most of us live to about 80 years old – we get 42 075 901.3 minutes on earth. A good percentage of us are nearing 30 or over that which means we have about 50 years (26 297 438.3 minutes) left to give it stick. Let’s make it count. How about living with a one-excellent-coat kinda mentality?
3) Another man’s shoes. Most of us are inquisitive about other people. The fascination with those who live differently to us. People’s stories. What they do and why they do what they do. What drives us? What haunts us? What motivates and inspires and pushes us? What keeps us looking ahead or sometimes drags us down? What we hope in and find satisfaction in? What moves us?
Keeping those questions in mind - - - Manual labour is not for sissies. Not at all. Yet a vast majority of people in our country do this for a living. This is their daily reality. Working until your body aches. Seriously. We can never fully relate to or comprehend what it feels like to walk in another man’s shoes until we have stood in them (even if for an hour) and felt the rough leather beneath our manicured toes.
4) Qualify it. As I crouched over small sections of the great expanse of roof, I found myself feeling rather inadequate. I mean I knew that these small sections would eventually amount to a larger area but hey – it’s a slow process and in those moments it felt virtually impossible. I revert to imagination. I began inventing massive spray guns in my head and robotically engineered painting devices. But but but: Sweat soaking up every inch of clothing, back feeling as though it may crack in half and hands shaking from the exertion of monotonous movement. I guess that’s how we often feel in life?! Is faithfulness to a task or a job or a person even worth it? We’re full of instant-driven-societal-expectations. “NOW or never”. Tomorrow, next week or next month is far too late my friend. However, sometimes the best lessons we can learn are in the moments that seem insignificant. The daily disciplines that don’t simply quantify life but qualify it.
5) Memories. Stop being such a girl riiiiiiiight? Nah, just hear me out. Life is to be shared.
I’ve reflected upon my rebellious highschool days when taking the burglar bars off my bedroom window and sneaking out on a weeknight or throwing a massive house party while my parents were overseas was sky-high-adrenaline-pumping fun. I’ve considered how it wasn’t healthy or wise and a million mistakes could have been made. I’ve thanked God for his protection. I’ve thought about what I will put in place to prevent my kids from ever being sneaker-outers. And then… I have to admit… I think about the memories. The moments shared with my best friend Amanda and an amazing group of friends who I’d only ever share being 16, 17 and 18 with. A tender and vulnerable part of life we should recall with a silly smile. Our statements, theories, raucous laughter, resolutions and complete “hacking” through teenagehood. And I don’t regret it at all.
Just like I don’t regret painting the roof.
With my dad.
In the summer of 2012.
“Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary simply by doing them with the right people.” (Nicholas Sparks)
So those, my dearest friends, are my roof revelations.
In conclusion, I did sit there, staring at my dirty hands, takkies and bucket and thinking: “This had flippen well better be the best painted roof the world has ever seen.”
And, to be fair, I think it is.