I write about the things that matter to me. All opinions are my own.

Search This Blog

Friday, May 27, 2011

When Fixing Goes Too Far

2009-05-06-sisyphus

I come from a family of fixers of impossible situations.

 

My grandparents had six kids and no money.

 

As my aunt S. later put it, “We were so poor we couldn’t afford the ‘o’ and the ‘r.’”

 

My grandmother (of blessed memory - may she rest in peace), Muriel Garfinkel, made entire meals out of the “can-can” sale at Shop-Rite. Peas and mushrooms with black pepper and brown sugar, in a cast-iron skillet, on an old stove. (Best. Peas and mushrooms. Ever.) From the way she fed the kids and the grandkids, you would never know they were living on any kind of budget.

 

Grandma and Grandpa were realtors. They started that business after a fire burnt their store to the ground. They picked themselves up and started over.

 

Fast forward…one of my aunts got married, had a kid, then found out she was pregnant with quadruplets. Doctor said, don’t get up – don’t move – or you’ll jeopardize the pregnancy. She could have stayed in bed the whole time. But the three-year-old needed her. So she emptied the living room and put a big bed there. And didn’t move

 

We used to visit her on Sundays. I vividly remember the three-year-old crawling onto the bed, scrambling all around her, just to get close.  

 

Normal went out the window, but my aunt was going to fix it.

 

Fast way forward many years later. My grandparents on my father’s side got too frail to care for themselves anymore. Yet they refused to go to any kind of nursing home or assisted living.

 

My dad tried to fix it. Every weekend, he set off - as in drove 11 hours - from New Jersey to Canada to oversee what was going on. The caregiver. The money. The maintenance on the house. Then back to work during the week.

 

I know a lot of fixers like this. I count myself as one of them. We try to do superhuman things even as the walls are crumbling down all around us.

 

At a certain point, one has to look around and ask the question: When does fixing go too far? Turning you into a shlepper (someone who works with no thanks). Or worse.

 

My grandmother raised a family of fixers. And she saw that they tended to get taken advantage of. So she cautioned me frequently:  “Don’t be a shmuck.”

 

I must admit, I fall into this trap all the time. I see a problem and try to fix it. But it’s the intensity. Sometimes I feel like a warrior with a battering ram, charging at a stone wall, trying to make it crumble. The stone is all the problems and how they’ve gotten knit together.

 

Sometimes I succeed, but more often it’s an impossible task. And I get frustrated.

 

I asked my Dad what he does at work lately. His job description: “One-man SWAT team.”

 

So it’s bred into my blood.

 

But I am starting to think it’s not healthy to be a fixer all the time.

 

Watched the Joel Osteen clip yesterday, “You are a child of the most high G-d.” You can find it on YouTube. In the clip he talks about letting go and having faith. He says:

 

“G-d is not moved by our tears. He is moved by our faith.”

 

He continues,

 

“G-d can do what man cannot do.”

 

I realized again what I have realized before. I need to have more faith. I need to recognize that I am only supposed to try. But that there is a higher power that steps in and actually makes things happen.

 

This is important advice for functioning well at work and at home.

 

You’ve got to know when to push and when to fix and when to shlep. That’s all part of the job description.

 

But you’ve also got to know when to let it go. Be a Buddhist about it. Detach and trust the universe. If things are meant to fall apart, they will fall no matter what you do.

 

Osteen says, “Look through the eyes of faith.”

 

I believe in my heart that G-d, a higher power, the universe, or whatever you want to call it, is aware, watching and guiding.

 

It’s true, we are here for tikkun olam – to correct and perfect the world (and ourselves).

 

But part of that process is to “let go and let G-d.”

 

If something is meant to fall apart, it will. Nothing you can do will save it. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost.

 

Know when to stop – don’t let others take advantage of you – listen to my grandmother and “Don’t be a shmuck.” Smile, take care of yourself, go to the gym.

 

Have a great day everyone - and enjoy the holiday weekend.


______

 

Note: This post is dedicated with prayer to all the people whose lives have been shattered by the recent disastrous weather. 


Photo source here.