One thing about dangling over the precipice and staring down: you can achieve some real clarity in moments while your brain is scrambling to find a way to survive the fall. I don’t really have the inclination to hang off of a rock cliff to develop direction, so I tend to dangle off the edge of a bottomless cup of coffee and seek those internal conversations that might guide me towards a healthier way to live.

One thing came oddly clear over a cup with a good friend the other day and hit like the proverbial tornado in a trailer park: all of the therapy, medication, support & love from family and friends exists as a metaphorical Lowe’s or Home Depot for you. You can go there, they have EVERY tool you can imagine, and you can spend what you will, but the one thing they won’t do is go out and build your house for you. That’s not their job. No matter the storm conditions or how muddy the fields are leading there, you gotta build your own house. Those tools will help, but you can’t stay in the hardware store all day.

Continuing the analogy of ridiculousness and fueled by enough caffeine to make your retinas rattle, let’s consider that the house you’re building is whatEVER relationship you might be focusing on……your significant other, your best friend, your brother, whomever is the cause for you to examine where you are. I used to own a small excavating business, and one of the number one complaints people had on the jobsite was the quality of work the other subcontractors performed. Because the ghost of my stepfather’s critical sense lingered over my every job, I always tended to fixate on the job being completed just right, and was miserable with myself if it was anything less.

How much easier is it to blame another when the house is out of square at the end of the job? And? It always spirals backwards to who broke ground and built the foundation. Now, picture the people in your life as the other subcontractors on the site. In the past it was easier to blame others, my environment or my upbringing for the less-than-stellar behavior I was doling out. From snark to divorce to heartbreak, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t rationalize to you as being out of my hands (to a degree). I gotta own the fact that I and I alone am responsible for that foundation being built just right. You can *help* the framers out by handing them lumber as you’re walking by, you can pull wire for the electricians, but in the end you can help most by performing the best job you’re capable of ┬ádoing. Now is the time for me to work on building the best foundation I know how, because no matter how the house turns out, good workmanship is never an accident and is the hallmark of someone who cares, deeply.

In the end, the subcontractors who keep their focus on their work are able to surround themselves with others who are equally dedicated to building a quality home. And be it a home or a relationship in which you have hope for the future, working on your own skill set is far more important that centering all effort on the hardware store. The old saying goes that it’s a poor craftsman who blames the tools. Putting effort into the foundation is what defines your work; respect, honesty, not cutting corners, knowing your intention is true and owning the result of your efforts are those very critical components to a good home, be it literal or with someone else.

Amazing what one can glimpse while staring over the edge of a coffee cup and taking a moment. The knowledge that you’re building and creating something worthwhile, be they stools, artwork or your very own sense of self, is enough to bring a smile to your heart as you raise that cup up in salute to a good conversation.