FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Vacuum.


by Dave Markwell

Around 11 o’clock last night I was awakened by a high-pitched wail shattering any appropriate peace in the neighborhood. I was thinking it might be some weird car or house alarm. The sound was steady and out of place. My sleepy mind could not imagine what could make this annoying noise at this unfortunate hour…until it did: my son.

I threw on some shorts and ran out the front door, jerked the plug from our outside electrical socket and quieted the devil vacuum that my son was using to clean his car…at 11 o’clock at night. I then unleashed a string of loud and creative profanity as I grabbed the offending device from his startled hand. My yelling at him may have been more disruptive than the vacuum, but I was mad. His late-night project was over, as was my restful slumber. I crawled back into bed, very awake with anger. That was then…

This morning I made my boy a cinnamon roll for breakfast. I heated and buttered it with great care and I peeled him an orange. Last night’s venom was long forgotten. I think this is how life works. We get mad and then we sleep and forgive. No residual impacts lingered this morning between my son and I, at least as far as I could tell. Though I suspect he won’t be doing much late night vacuuming any time soon, which is fine by me.

The lesson I see here is that sometimes things matter very much, then don’t. Nothing lasts except the things we want to last. I don’t want to be mad at my son, so it couldn’t last. I want to love him and this always rises, even when he does something stupid. With this insight, especially in an increasing sensitive and self-critical world, we can let ourselves off the hook. It’s ok to get frustrated and reactive on occasion. Sometimes events warrant this response. It’s human and humans are naturally irrational, hasty and imperfect. It’s just the way it is and we are.

So, with last night’s debacle now living only in memory, I move on with a story. The interesting stories of our lives are the ones when things didn’t work out perfectly. We laugh and shake our heads and remember fondly events that, at the time, shook us. Again, this is just more interesting than the boring, mundane, colorless moments when everything works out right. Of these stories our lives are made and perhaps by appreciating the truth and beauty in our imperfections we can liberate ourselves from debilitating and unfun idea that we need to be perfect…and this is perfect…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland Fitness]


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