This morning we were greeted by a soggy pool on the office floor. We clustered around it, trying to figure the puzzle, checking out the options. It wasn’t raining so the ceiling shouldn’t have been leaking. The pool was far from the doorway but the miscut door might have let water run in to be channelled to the centre of the room by the uneven floor. The sink, fridge or washing machine could also be culprits…all have good days and bad days.
It felt like one of those logic tests we do as kids to learn lateral thinking. I imagined someone suspended on a rope as a giant cude of ice melted beneath their feet, the huddled desks an uneasy audience to a slow suicide.. But then we wiped up the water and forget to wonder where it came from.
There is a kind of philosophy to be found even in a puddle and I smiled with the recognition that often, what you do with what you’ve got, is more important than how things got to be that way in the first place.
Pondering the puddle got me thinking of how life differs in some parts of the world. When the light switchs spat sparks, and the taps administered their daily shock to my wet hands in Nigeria, I cursed every millimetre short of perfect that people accepted.
The local staff quite rightly thought I should be glad to have power and water. They had never got used to the idea that life owed them order, that they were due perfect as standard. But I was born into a room ruled out by straight lines and right angles.
With time and travel imperfect has grown on me. Yesterday a new expat mentioned that she was having problems charging her phone since the plug didn’t fit. I immediately found a pen top to force through the pins and had it charging in seconds. It didn’t occur to me to complain to someone – make do has got to be my modus operandi.
When the world is off centre, tilted on an angle, frayed round the edges, I feel better about my own leaking eyes. Here it is easier to accept myself as a work in progress, to believe what I am right now is good enough, but still have the heart to dream and hope and reach for something better.
The houses are crooked and the roads mostly hole but beauty is as abundant as mud.
Nothing is thrown away when everything is in short supply and money is scarce. Out of rubbish homes are built: tiny shanty shacks that seem supported more by prayers than planks. There is a use, a value, even in that which is utterly broken. The trick is in the finding, in the way of seeing.
Life is tenuous here, it hangs on by a rusty nail and takes root in the steep slopes that are a storm away from a landslide.
Tomorrow might not come so it makes sense to smile now. There is great joy even in all this unfinished imperfect. There is happiness to be found even by those desperately wanting, waiting for better things.
That lesson strikes me as something worth packing for home.