Matt Heath: Doing too much in lockdown

OPINION:

It’s good to achieve things in lockdown. Even if it’s just one meaningful thing a day. Maybe have a shower, clip your toenails or flip your socks so they feel fresh. Tick off the little things and the endorphins flow freely. You can, however, do too much. Last week I took on something large and complex. I was too ambitious and the roof of our house paid the price.

Like many New Zealanders, my family throws everything we don’t want in the garage. Musical instruments, exercise equipment, bread makers. Things we’ll never use again. Instead of throwing them out now, we store them for decades first. Unfortunately, this doesn’t leave much room for the car. On Thursday I made a stand against the hoarding and moved everything into the attic. Dozens of heavy items down the drive, over the deck, into the house, down the hall, up a ladder and through a hatch in the roof. It was hard, painful work.

Injuries accrued include but were not limited to skinned knuckles carrying a broken TV through a tight doorway,excruciating foot compression from a dropped drum cymbal, a lump on my head from a copy of David Attenborough’s Planet Earth and a knee hyperextension from an involuntary descent.

A lesser man would’ve quit after the first wound, but I had a higher purpose. I was hoping my physical exertion would make everyone else feel lazy. Sadly they didn’t look up from their devices until it was too late.

“I’m proud of you, cowboy” -Buzz Lightyear.

Nostalgia and personification are strong emotions. For the weak and sentimental it is easier to drag things up a ladder than to throw them out. Toys are particularly hard to chuck—especially ones with eyes. I blame the Toy Story movies. How can you be sure a teddy bear won’t come tolife when you’re not around? The actual toys from Toy Story are even harder to dump. When you find a box with Woody, Ham, Mr and Mrs Potato head, Rex and three Buzz Lightyears, you can’t chuck them in the rubbish – they might be mid adventure.

Books are another challenging dump. A pile of books is a mountain of magical stories and knowledge.

Maybe we feel compelled to protect books because the Nazis burnt them, or maybe there’s no room in the wheelie bin. Whatever the reason, you have to donate or keep books. Unfortunately, second-hand stores are both overstocked and closed at the moment so all our unwanted, never to be read again volumes, had to go in the attic. Everyone knows the heaviest thing in the world is a cardboard box full of books and I hauled three up the ladder. This was my first mistake.

It was dark outside when everything from the garage was finally in our roof—what a mess. A few years ago I nailed planks to the cross beams to create new storage territories. This was back when you could go to the hardware store and buy decent wood. In this punishing lockdown situation, I was forced to use particle board from under the house. That was my second mistake.

My third mistake will live with me for the rest of my life. Hungry for extra floor space, I placed one amazingly heavy box of books on top of another. This did create more room for toys but it also created a crack right down the middle of the lounge ceiling. The particle board lasted half an hour before giving way and destroying any chance of me receiving praise for my hard work. The ceiling below needs replastering, possibly reinforcing. It won’t be cheap. Worst of all, the crack is right above the TV, so there is no hiding from what I’ve done.A full days’ labour, and all I earned was a deep sense of shame. There are no extra endorphins flowing after that cock-up.

Keeping busy in lockdown is essential. Achieving things is good for the mental health. But be careful you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Maybe check whether you’re a moron or not before trying anything significant.

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