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Johannes Verspronck: Boy Sleeping in a High Chair (1654)
"The ultimate DIY effort seems to be cleaning up those earlier, innocently ignorant DI(T)Y efforts."

I must maintain a certain vigilance to avoid Doing It (To) Myself whenever Doing It Myself. A fine line separates these two proximate states, and even the very best of intentions cannot guarantee that an innocent one won't become a guilty other. For me, trouble seems to start with some simple-seeming misconception. I believe I know then act upon that presumed knowledge only to later learn that I didn't know at all, for how might anyone confirm something as slippery as knowledge without some actual experience to disconfirm it? I stripped to bare wood then painted The Villa's exterior under a delusion of care which later essentially undid everything I was attempting to do. In attempting to preserve the siding by slathering linseed oil on it before painting, I ruined the paint's adhesion. The sun later heated the underlying linseed oil causing it to crack the paint. Now, I'm looking at re-stripping back to bare wood again, an enormous and necessary effort made even more onerous by the fact that I Did It (To) Myself. I produced a DI(T)Y.

We have a Homemade pandemic now thanks to tens of thousands of people dutifully Doing It (To) Themselves.
Like Typhoid Mary, our Covid Larries and Covid Chéries, refuse to accept that they might be infected, spreading, and a threat to more than just themselves but everyone else as well. Authorities locked up Mary but she escaped and went back to working as a cook and killing innocents because she never believed that she was infected. She was arrested again and never again released. Ignorance works like this. It often rides a righteous high horse, insisting upon some non-existent right of man, protesting an assault on personal freedom. Their supply of bullshit excuses defending their ignorance knows no limits. No amount of experience or intelligence can dent those defenses. Arguments tend to leave all parties feeling worse. Short of just locking up the so-called 'vaccine hesitant,' we get to share in the fruits of their ignorance as their DI(T)Y spreads to threaten everyone else as well. Free societies rely upon scrupulous adherence to certain truths, ones which might not be self evident but still should demand respect. When they aren't respected, innocents get infected.

Much of what I have to undo resulted from my DI(T)Ys. My shortcuts often take a long time to correct. My innocent omissions require much commission to resolve. I'm relearning on this Refurbishing effort, to more quickly notice, acknowledge, and accept my shortcomings, to collapse the denial cycle and to avoid creating secrets. Kurt Our Painter has served as my father confessor and also as a good example. He sands every surface after painting each coat. Should he find an imperfection, either preexisting or self-inflected, he acknowledges it then and immediately begins to remediate the damage. Even if he discovers the flaw after what was supposed to be the final coat, he recedes back to basics again right then, even re-priming if necessary, for he's attempting to produce a product for the ages and not just filling out an afternoon. This requires a remarkable humility and self-respect to admit that you're the source of both the problem and the solution. No whining about loss of presumed freedom, no tears shed for the loss of another delusion, no derision about what an idiot he probably appears to have been, just an immediate move to correct the earlier misconception.

I'm coming to understand that Doing It (To) Yourself is one of the many and varied paths that success tends to take. It's not all slam dunk doing it yourself. Nothing's 100% competence. Nothing's 100% ignorance, either, unless one colludes to prolong that state. Colluding's easy, even gratifying. Defending the right to be wrong can leave anyone feeling as though they've been grievously wronged. That you're standing on your own garden hose, complaining about the municipal water system's service, might only be lost on the one standing on the hose. Everyone else knows what's going down. Ignorance explodes and can poison everyone in misinformation. I became an evangelical champion when I was linseed oiling my house. I have no idea how many I poisoned with my misconception before I learned better. How very embarrassing it was to admit that I'd tricked myself. How worse it might have become had I decided to defend my earlier decision against its obvious shortcomings. Doing It (To) Yourself seems easy enough to accomplish. The ultimate DIY effort seems to be cleaning up those earlier, innocently ignorant DI(T)Y efforts. Cleaning up after more heartily defended errors might take forever.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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