Tooling Around – by Lori Nelson

image of tools by lori nelson for step 12 magazine

Why was there only one Phillips head screwdriver in the tool kit? With its end broken and warped, the job was impossible. In frustration, I looked again at the screw needing to be untightened. Impossible without the proper tool, the repair halted. Now what?

I could run to the store and buy another screwdriver. I could hire someone to do the job for me. I could forget about it. Forget about it? No. Not me. Things left undone plague me with fixation, especially things that need fixing! There’s got to be another tool, another way, something I didn’t see in my toolbox. Look again. Dump it out and really look, because there is always another way.

That’s how it is with life in general. That’s how it is with problems, addictions, obsessions, test, illnesses, relationships, empty bank accounts, wants and fears. Your life, anyway–not mine–because I have it all under control, right? Of course not.

None of us have it all under control. All of us need a toolbox (neatly organized, thank you) with all kinds of useful and unusual tools to fix what needs fixing. More importantly, we need to periodically check that toolbox to make sure what’s in there is ready to go at a moment’s notice, and to see what may be missing that could update our collection.

Yes, food, clothing, shelter; those three have been drilled in. But now we know better. Life is much more than those essentials. Much, much more.

Now that we’ve been screwed by friends, jobs, employers, loved ones, traffic jams, bad food, and the ubiquitous “bad hair days”, along with every other calamity, both real and imagined, we know we need “jaws of life” tools sometimes.

Glass cutters for when we can’t break through the glass ceiling; pliers to ply the truth from people who hide it deep inside; a wrench to wrench that last donut from our bloated child; masking tape to conceal the tiny error; every size nail to be able to nail down the essential reality; and so on….

Heck, even judges have a hammer to hammer home exactly who is in charge in their courtroom. We all need tools. We all struggle to decide just which tool will be the right one at the right moment. And sometimes we only have one moment to get it right.

Funny, but the best tools won’t fit in a toolbox. Friends, your local deli or Starbucks, that quiet place you’ve discovered by a faraway lake, the Ocean! for goodness sakes, a great book, deep, deep breaths, melodious music, ice cream (chocolate, please!), spring flowers, Chiluly glass, your dog (did you forget him?), okay … your cat, too (even though you need to limit yourself to less than twelve of them …), and the occasional birthday party without pointy hats.

Lots of tools for tooling around. What happened to my repair? I let someone else figure it out. Unscrewing is not my specialty.

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