Small Stories for a Big World

I once worked with a woman who believed that dreading things had its plus side.“If I dread something enough,” she would say, “It’s usually not as bad as I expected.”

I thought of her the other day when I finally tackled dealing with Doobins’ bedroom door. We had a shoe rack hanging on the back of the door, and, when you shut the door, the hooks that held it to the top of the door would catch on the door frame and prevent the door from closing completely.

That wasn’t a problem until Sherbert the cat joined our family. Once Sherbert got big enough, he discovered that he thoroughly enjoyed climbing up on furniture and knocking over plants. Garnet moved the vulnerable ones from the living room into Doobins’ room, and we kept the door closed. When Sherbert was smaller, the door closed enough to keep him out. As he grew, he became strong enough to open the partially closed door. When he took a notion, he would push open the door, climb up on Doobins’ desk and chest of doors and knock over the plants.

We could have, of course, addressed the shoe rack problem immediately. But it seemed like a lot of trouble. Where were we going to move the rack? All the other door candidates were going to require work, because they already had things such as art and ties hanging on them. Art hangs on doors in our house because we have more art than wall space, and if we moved the shoe rack to the door that had been home to my tie racks, where would we put my ties?

So, as with many problems, we took the “Let’s do the absolute minimum and hope the problem goes away on its own” approach. The absolute minimum was pulling harder when we closed the door. That worked for a while. But Sherbert kept growing and the day came when he could open the door no matter how much effort we had put into closing it. Whenever the plant fever gripped Sherbert, we would put him into Sparkle Girl’s room for while. When we let him out, he would usually head off on some other adventure.

Sitting on the couch one day, I decided the time had come to at least begin doing research into solving the door problem. I went in, grabbed the shoe rack by its sides and lifted it up a bit to determine whether all the shoes would have to be unloaded before we moved it. It was quite heavy. The answer was definitely “Yes.”


Planning to go back into the living room, sit back down and ponder whether I had it in me to unload the rack myself or would wait until Garnet came back home, I let the hooks settle back down on the top of the door and headed out of Doobins’ bedroom. When I pulled the door, it shut completely with a click.

Was it truly possible that by simply shifting the position of the hooks on the top of the door, I had solved the problem? The days that followed proved that was indeed the case. Turns out, we could have made the problem go away weeks and perhaps months ago with a 30-second investment of time.

Who knew?

I have been thinking about some of the other things on my to-do list that I have been giving myself a hard time about putting off—losing weight and writing a novel are two that readily come to mind—and wondering whether, one day, I will say, “That turned out to be a lot more straightforward than I expected.”

I certainly hope so.

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