Inches

inchworm
"Who are we to question how it seems to be …?"

I measure real progress in inches. I'm certainly attracted to the ever-popular notion that some progress might be better measured in longer segments, even though these seem inevitably misleading. I'm also not immune to sometimes believing that I might, by clever application, manage to take leagues-long strides toward my more worthy objectives, but this inevitably leads to disappointing results. I figure I might have better things to occupy my shrinking time here than spending it plotting to disappoint myself. I manage to experience enough disappointments without dog-piling into the conspiracy with those who seem to be out to suck the wind out of my sails.

The grand deconstruction that is our kitchen remodel project got itself off to a strong start.
By the end of the first day, we felt as though we'd advanced a bit further than we'd expected to move when we started the day. By the end of the second day, we're a little further behind, though we'd added a heat vent to the little bathroom—not in the original plan—and uncovered some disturbingly curious structural anomalies which had been lurking behind the drywall. The duct installers kept us out of the little bathroom, which we'd expected to strip to studs by the end of the day, and the surprise discovery of house-original bead board wainscoting beneath the kitchen walls distracted us while we painstakingly removed it for refurbishing and reinstalling as a surprise additional feature for the little bathroom.

After two days, we might eventually learn that we ended up about two and a half days behind where we started, once we add in correcting the structural insufficiencies and installing that picky bead board. It's early days yet. Most of what we could not possible know still lies unknowable ahead of us, and there's no known way around this condition. We're headed in the same direction, roughly, that we originally plotted, which might indicate eventual success, but we can't know yet whether that assumption will hold true, either.

I measure progress in inches. Ceilings come down bare inches at a time. Tongue and groove wainscoting removal happens in tiny, painstaking increments. The wider world grows increasingly out of focus, out of context to what we're trying to accomplish here. The longer run fades into irrelevant insignificance. I might count the overstuffed contractor bags waiting to be carried out to the pick-up truck and gain no greater insight into our actual velocity. Actual velocity can only be reliably gauged at the end, after we've stopped moving and we're done. Until then, we inch along.

The largest challenge might be simply maintaining flow, especially if that flow rate rarely exceeds an inch at any particular time. If we can average an inch at a time, we might realize real progress over time. Should we fit and start our way in the direction of sometimes achieving the odd inch, our progress will slow to the infinitesimal, which will be no progress at all. That modest aspiration, that spare inch at a time, has so far served mankind well since the beginning of recorded time. Zeno understood the paradox well. Even that broad bridge went up an inch at a time. Gravity might have insisted upon it.

I'm waiting out an unplanned conflict. The duct installers are blocking my free access to the little bathroom, where I plan to savage the walls to studs. The Muse, last night, tried to make some headway in that direction, but ran out of light before completing her task. We're uncovering a complication per cubic furlong travelled, which I figure might be about the normal rate at which even best-laid plans gang aglee. Who are we to question how it seems to be, progressing steadily at about an inch per?

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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