You may remember that I stood on a chair before Christmas to put up some decorations and, as a friend pointed out, not having first conducted a health and safety audit, succeeded in putting my head through the pendant lamp. It didn't hurt me. But it destroyed the lamp.
Today, after weeks of negotiation and disagreement, we chose a new lamp - one that is almost flush with the ceiling and thus well away from my head. Even standing on a chair. And I fitted it!
The problem is, I can't really see. From a distance, I'm fine. From here, I can read a car number plate in the next village. I can see the slightest movement of a cat in my shrubbery (and am not a bad shot with a potato gun either). But look at a newspaper and, no matter how much I screw up my face and squint, I can't read anything past the headlines without a magnifying glass. Or at times a telescope.
So rewiring the ceiling light, in the half dark of course with the power turned off, standing on a chair to reach, with screws the size of an ant's head (without the useful antennae markers), and my neck bent back 90 degrees, was a bit of a challenge. Discovering the fitting instructions were in Dutch didn't help. Anyway, I finally connected the schroefs to the draads and . . . we have light.
But it occurred to me, as I sat here trying to ease my neck joints back into shape and swallowing Paracetamol to ease the incipient headache, that this is a great metaphor for life. I don't mean that having guidance in an incomprehensible foreign tongue and eventually seeing the light is what life is all about, although it might be. But that sometimes we have to step back to see properly what's going on.
It doesn't matter how strong my binoculars are, it doesn't matter how high the chair is, it certainly doesn't matter how far back I force my head nor into what grotesque shape I contort my body, I can't see that damn screw and take in what is required until I retreat a little. And shouldn't we all do that more often to get a fix on how the detail relates to the broad picture?
Sometimes small things become too important. At times what is just a part of the whole takes on the appearance and significance of the whole of the whole. Sometimes we have to back off to see what's really important. And then we hit the stupid thing with a big hammer and it's done.