I’m not stupid. Just a dense dude who’s super lazy at times.
So what if the fine print on the packaging of my lint screen clearly states, “CAUTION: Failure to frequently replace lint filter can lead to serious damage of washing appliance, burst water pipes, and excessive flooding in your washing area.” I read it. Ignored it. Paid dearly for it.
The warning signs were obvious.
I knew my 99-cent mesh screen was seriously clogged with pounds of gross gunk from weeks of washing. It was an easy fix: Change the damn thing! But hey, I was on a work call. Give me a break. I had to focus.
It’s true. I did hear the water surging out of the hose and the washer roaring ready to blow through two floors into the sky. It was a Friday. “I’ll deal with it on the weekend,” I told myself. I’d have plenty of time to wipe down a little moisture that got onto the bathroom walls. They needed a good cleaning anyway. I chugged my Monster. Tuned into more of my boring conference call. Tuned out the disaster in progress.
Three days later: I finished drying soggy Christmas decorations.
It was a friggin’ mess. I honestly don’t know how it happened. That goddam lint trap burst so hard, and the jets of water were so precise, this was no fluke. That cagey lint trap was sending me a message. There was no other explanation.
The laundry-room walls were soaked. Same with the floor: a good inch of icky, standing water, at least. The explosion plastered the bathroom mirror — I’m sure just to rub it in as I stared at my miserable mug cleaning up this debacle later on. Somehow the water also fired into our bins of innocent Christmas decorations. Penetrating wreaths inside of construction-grade plastic bags. Drenching garland, knick-knacks, and wrapping paper that had no intention of seeing daylight for another three months. They were sopped. I was humiliated. Don’t even ask about the lint. Gobs of it. In every nook and cranny in doorjambs, window sills, back behind the toilet seat, even in my toothpaste-rinsing cup.
This catastrophe had a mind of its own, determined to make my weekend clean-up as hellish as possible.
What other areas of my life are clogged and ready to burst?
When you spend hours on your knees tooth-picking mushy lint out of floor tile crevices, you have time to think about these things.
Let’s see… for starters, my writing flow has choked the last few months. I tell myself billable work and home updates are my main distractions. But how badly is my creative passion backed up when I spew those excuses?
I cranked out a lot of articles through April. Joined a sweet Medium writing community. Met a bunch of cool, supportive writers on Slack. Papered my wall with Post It ideas for pieces I planned to write and submit to new publications I applied to. Awesome energy, totally fun, great momentum.
Then I started a new job in June and signed up for home-renovation projects that would surely sabotage my personal writing projects. Mission accomplished. I’m feeling the yuckiness now. Sulking around the house wondering why I’m not being creative, why I’m not kicking out quick drafts of the Post It ideas crying out to me out every day as I sit down to pound out thousands of words for my paying clients but not for myself.
As I mindlessly commit to this mundane madness, I hear the sound of another machine ready to spin out of control — my hamster wheel. It’s going faster and faster. I’m getting fatter and fatter. That unmistakable odor of metal grinding on metal indicating an overheated engine, about to explode any second, another Lintmageddon in the making.
Ahhh, screw it. I’m being overdramatic. It’s no big deal.
Why do I think that way?
A buddy of mine just died from a blot clot.
He also recognized something was off. Told his wife, “I just don’t feel right.” Did nothing. Died about a week after that.
He kicked from portal vein thrombosis, a blockage of the portal vein — a hard-working blood vessel that brings blood to the liver from the intestines. I read that most people have no symptoms. Also heard it can be caused by drinking too much, overeating, or just plain bad luck. Once that critical vein gets clogged, you go fast, without much warning. Since I’ve put on the COVID 19 the last few months, I’m feeling anxious about our parallel lifestyles.
Odd connections or severe blockages I need to pay attention to?
We may not admit it, but guys know when we know, right? Like when there’s something totally weird in the air. We can sniff it out. But too often, we ignore our intuition. At least I do. Even when the same hard lessons keep showing up. (Don’t get me started on my two bicep tears, rotator-cuff surgery, and two hip replacements.) The universe is relentless in getting me to pay attention to what I need to learn. These days, blockages are screaming out to me.
What’s free and flowing is always growing.
When I do notice the signs and follow through with simple actions to release the pressure, life is easier and feels a whole lot better. Like when I do a minute of down-dog while giving my beagle his morning treat. When I slowly kayak across lakes I usually speed around in my car. When I enter my food calories (with no beers!) into my diet app five days straight. When I finally sit my ass down to finish an article like this and hit “Publish.”
Tao informs all of Life equally, with no preference for the aspects that seem more ‘Taoist’ or ‘flowing’. There is no moral duty to follow Tao; you cannot do otherwise.
So my task is to pay attention to the flow in my life, to lean into it, to let it carry me where I belong. For damn sure, not to ignore it or worse, to plug it up.
Thank you, Lintmageddon. I’ll miss you, Mitch. Both are serious smacks upside the head to help me man up and unclog my life’s authentic flow. It’s working: I just got back from Home Depot with 12 packs of metal, lint filters.
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This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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