Cabin relief

We’ve been trying to chip away at the spring projects list, and the long Presidents’ Day weekend was deemed the time to get after the cabin.

Dean and I lived in a little one-room cabin for nearly five years between when we bought our property and when we finished our house. We moved into the house nearly a year and a half ago, but it took us a lot longer to actually move out of the cabin. For awhile, we simply didn’t have places to move things to – until we had bookshelves in the house, it made more sense to leave the books in the cabin than to fill boxes and pile them in our new space. By last spring, though, the cabin was empty. And it has been waiting for a deep clean and a fresh coat of paint ever since.

A year languishing on the to-do list… you know that’s going to be a rough task, but I psyched myself up to suffer through in order to bask in the glow of getting ‘er done. Or at least getting ‘er started.

And then a funny thing happened. I enjoyed it. Like, genuinely enjoyed spending 4 hours with rubber gloves and a bucket of hot water. Or more accurately, genuinely enjoyed spending a weekend in our cabin. We built that cabin and everything in it; and I’m proud of it. Stripping away the cobwebs and accumulated grime to let that little space shine again was immensely satisfying. It held five years of our lives, and being in that space brought back so many memories… And daydreams about who it might hold next, and how they might shape it and love it and add to the stories.

The scrubbing itself really did go better than I expected (ammonia! where have you been all my life?). But it’s only 250 square feet and it’s empty – the scrubbing was never going to be an overwhelming project. It took getting to the other side to realize that what I was really avoiding was facing my own shame and judgement about letting it go. In a bit of congruity, I read this week about Rick Hansen’s idea of sorting the things you need to forgive into three buckets – moral failure, unskillfulness, and everything else. My mind’s default is to throw everything into the first bucket. I’ve spent years trying to remember and convince myself that my car needing repairs, or my cabin needing cleaned is not moral failure. But at least in this one case, it really sunk in this week. The cabin needed a scrub, but it wasn’t falling into disrepair. No one was suffering, and perhaps I could have re-prioritized to make it happen sooner but it wasn’t shear laziness. If it wasn’t moral failure or even unskillfulness, there was really nothing to forgive myself for. With all the emotional baggage removed, it’s just a cleaning project followed by a painting project. One that comes with a whole lot of nostalgia, and possibilities. What a relief.