In searching for a metaphor this morning, I found my attention drawn to the annoying thing in my bathroom. A few weeks ago, we heard the sound of running water and had a plumber out only to discover that there was an active leak under the foundation of the house. He cut the water line to the toilet and happily announced that the issue was fixed. I stared at him, and then at my now inoperable toilet, and back at him again, and then paid $300. Oh well, who needs modern plumbing these days?
As the weeks wore on, we tried not to think about the unmentionable thing. The thing that often comes with water, warmth, and humidity. And yet, there was that lingering smell...
So finally (delayed mostly because we had to quarantine for COVID again), we had someone out to check for mold. As I type this, I'm waiting to hear what he found. But I do know that it's not looking good. Moisture readings are way up all around the perimeter of our bathroom. And we live in Florida, so ... I shudder to think what is behind the walls and vanities.
The thing about mold is that once it's present it just slowly keeps spreading. Often in spaces hidden and out of reach, it blooms and stretches. But it doesn't just stay hidden in the walls. The spores can become airborne, silently poisoning us. And once it gets bad enough for you to discover it, the damage is usually widespread. The mold guy (who readily admitted that most people are not happy to see him) described the process of remediation to remove everything. He said that removing mold is like removing a cancer - you have to cut just beyond the infected parts and take out "healthy" or unaffected areas. Leaving any behind will mean further spread. And we won't know how much needs to be taken out until demolition starts.
Awesome. I guess we're not going to Legoland anymore, kids.
I do see a metaphor within all of this. It all feels pretty familiar to the things that breed discontent, disconnection, and disappointment in our own lives. Those feelings of anger, resentment, envy - they can similarly spread and fester beneath the surface until they have spread to our hearts, our words, and the air around us.
Lately, so many things feel bleak. There are moments when it feels like there is just darkness behind every wall.
When our insurance guy came out to assess the water damage he talked about how moisture will just spread, slowly, deliberately, until it meets an obstacle. It climbs up the drywall and lays a trail for the mold to take root. Don't our thoughts function in the same way? What we focus on and attend to will lay the path for what takes root. The mold guy says there are hundreds of types of mold that can be in a home. There are just a handful of types that are deadly. Our thoughts and resulting feelings work so similarly - what we feel isn't good or bad, but pervasively destructive thoughts can poison us from within.
I, for one, have been working desperately to cut out the destructive growth in my inward thoughts and outward experiences. I have been straining for dry foundations. I'm trying to meditate more. To walk my dog and feel the sun on my face and let that dry up the gunk of my anxiety or dissatisfaction. To run, or lift weights, in ways that help root me in my body. To learn watercolor - every night taking a few moments to watch color pool and spread into something beautiful. To make time for family and friendships. To lean into the things that feel like light, and breathe away the areas that feel dark or diseased within me. It's constant work. It's remediation.
What walls do you need to look behind? What can be cut out or bleached in the light, to allow you to breathe freely again? I hope, for all our sakes, that the work is minimal. But if it's a total renovation that's needed then ...well ... I guess we better get ready to demo.