Lessons From The Bathroom Sink

All the great philosophers must have been plumbers. The work seems to lend itself to powerful insights. Plumbers unstop the blockages and get everything flowing. They plunge the depths and get rid of all the crap.

Who better to pass along pithy rules of life?

I tackled a leaky sink the other day. I’d been tolerating the drip for months. It took me so long because I didn’t know how to go aboutstarting. I’d made halfhearted attempts to ask at various hardware
stores but I didn’t provide enough information for them to help me so they were useless. I took this to mean that they were rotten sob’s and vowed never to shop there again.

I don’t know what changed to make the task suddenly seem doable and messential. It was almost like catching a wave of energy. All I know is that I woke up one morning ready to fix the leak.

So I turned to the wonderful internet– the source of all knowledge, and searched on “How to fix a leaky faucet.” I got exactly what I needed and thus my philosophical adventure began. Here’s what I learned:

a) The source of the problem is generally not where it appears to be.

Did you know that when a faucet is leaking the leak isn’t coming from the faucet but from the handles? It makes perfect sense. It’s where the work is done. I would have started trying to apply a solution to the
symptom instead of getting to the heart of the matter. Learn something new every day.

b) Even when at first it looks as though you can’t go any further you have to keep at something to find resolution.

I only partially understood my internet instructions, and it’s not my style to comprehend something fully before I start messing with it, so I started unscrewing whatever looked un screwable without any idea what a packing nut, valve stem, or stem spindle was. I got to a point without obvious moving parts and figured okay this is it. That thing there might be a washer. Let’s go with that. First trip to the hardware store.

c) There is no shame in ignorance when you’re trying something new, and
you will not die of embarrassment when you make a mistake.

I have to admit I was tempted to scramble for a lie when the guy asked me what I thought this item was. It was so clear from his expression that I’d made an error. It was not in fact a washer but some spacer thing. He showed me examples of what I was really looking for. I got back in my car, took deep breaths, thought it was unlikely that they were having a big laugh at my expense but what the hell. I was doing my best. I presciently told myself that maybe I’d make several more trips back and forth (25 minutes each way) before it was done and that was fine.

d) It’s not the thing itself, but what supports it that’s important.

So next I figured out how to take out the cartridges and took them back to the store. After a fair amount of blah blah blah that I didn’t understand or care about regarding Chinese parts and their American
equivalents he picked the seat and spring he felt was most likely to fit. Another mind blower– the leak has nothing to do with this thing Ijust dug out, it’s what it sits on! I’d hardly even looked at what was beneath it. Back I go to see if this replacement part is the right thing.

e) Pay attention to what you’re receiving. You may be taking on
something inadvertently.

Lo and behold the seat and spring fit perfectly. Hooray. I’m ready to put everything back together. I reach into my pocket for the cartridges and find that I have accidentally taken one from the store and left mine behind. I try to make it fit but it’s no use. One more trip and this time it was avoidable. Arggh.

f) Life would be easier if the hardware store was closer.

Achieving a goal may involve some false starts and missteps. Staying on your intended path generally takes a lot of course correction. The sooner you know you’re headed in the wrong direction the less frustration, inconvenience and discontent in your life My sink no longer leaks. I feel joy and a sense of accomplishment every time I walk in the room. I hope that lasts at least as long as the leak
itself.