Years ago Greg had to attend a week-long Scout leader training camp called Wood Badge. He returned home in his head-to-toe BSA uniform with whisker glitter (can’t grow a beard), some new skills, and a carved walking stick with an aluminum 212 hanging from the tip. Greg in full scout gear makes me weak in the knees but I was so distracted by the 212 I couldn’t even fawn over him. I asked him what it meant.
212 is fairly common entrepreneurial training tactic but it was the first time either of us had heard it:
At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water comes steam. And steam can power a locomotive. Raising the temperature of water by one extra degree means the difference between something that is simply very hot and something that generates enough force to power a machine. It reminds us that seemingly small things can make tremendous differences. –Sam Parker
Festina lente is a classical adage and oxymoron meaning MAKE HASTE SLOWLY. The constructive intent of the phrase is that activities should be performed with a proper balance of urgency and diligence. If tasks are overly rushed, mistakes are made and good long-term results are not achieved.
Jean de la Fontaine alluded to the motto in his famous fable of "The Hare and the Tortoise" writing that the tortoise "with a prudent wisdom hastens slowly".
The emblem of a dolphin entwined around an anchor has been used since Roman times to illustrate the adage. -Wikipedia
Way back in December we signed the contract with our home builder and subsequently discovered we were pregnant the following day. The day we signed I was 211 degrees. The next day I was 212. FULL STEAM AHEAD. I think I made seven lists that day. Things to do before the baby arrived, things to buy, things to sell, things to replace, things to do to this house before we list it, etc. I packed all the non-essential kitchen items and books we didn’t need in less than a week. (And later had to dig out the Bundt pan. I now know Bundt pans are essential.)
Our builder said it would take five months from the pouring of the footings to build our house. Naturally, we took an August 3 due date, subtracted five months, and got March 3 as the absolute worst-case-scenario deadline for said footings. It was only December, after all, and the only thing that stood in our way was a simple building permit from the city of Draper. Our builder said a permit generally took four to six weeks but they had gotten them in as little as two. So we hastily applied for our permit mere days after le bebe was in utero. And then a semi transporting stumbling blocks, speed bumps, and stop signs crashed on our lot and all heck broke loose.
Lost emails, city meetings with witnesses that literally vanished from the records, dueling geologists, fraudulent stamps, notarized documents with no legal binding, invoice after invoice for round tables and reengineering we never intended to buy. January passed. February passed. March passed. Uh oh.
April passed. I registered RE at Lone Peak crossing my fingers we’d officially break ground soon. May passed. The “why is nothing happening” pressure exploded at Tepanyaki on my birthday over a plate of yakisoba; I cried like a helpless baby as Greg hurried to pay the tip and get me outdoors. We had plans. We had lists. We had so much cushion. And now we were going to have to stuff the baby in the laundry room and take two cars everywhere since we don't fit in one. I questioned the super certain good impression we had when we bought the lot. I doubted the crystal clear vision of our future notched in that mountainside. Were my senses wrong? Had the last six months been sign after heavenly sign we should abort mission? Or were they test after test to trust, endure, and conquer?
Greg assured me it was the latter. He said there was always resistance when building a temple and our home is our temple. He said failure wasn’t a sign to quit (which deep down I already knew after the whole IVF experience with Archer…good thing we didn’t quit after the first one failed). He reminded me anything worth getting usually takes great effort.
As I simmered down we agreed with odd chuckles and shoulder shrugs that despite the obstacles everything still felt right. How I could be at peace with my life in the blender was news to me but it was real. I felt I needed to back off with the steam machine and focus on my family, my callings, and helping someone different each day. About this time we sang a hymn at church with the lyric then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above. It was the second witness slap in the face I needed. (#choristerFTW) Excepting my chopstick showdown and a similar scene the day we found out we needed an 18’ foundation wall under the main corner of the house I’ve been as stoic and serene as a Durkovich gets.
Here it is mid-June, I’m having a baby in six weeks, there is still no hole in our dirt, we are still waiting for our building permit, 87% of my life is out of control and total chaos (I’m still in charge of laundry and meal planning), and I’m totally happy. You just can’t write stuff like this. Except I’m writing it. And it’s all true.
Despite seven months of intense effort to move forward I’m relieved I’ll be bringing baby home to 680 West. You wanna be where everybody knows your name. I think RE needs one last summer where everybody knows her name, too. Greg feels the drag has to do with who will buy our house; that the ducks aren’t in a row yet. I feel I have work yet to do in these parts. I also feel I have gems to glean from those still around me. There are reasons for the timing; there always are. We both believe it will make sense later but not now.
Somewhere along the way I ran out of steam, dropped a degree, threw my lists to the wind, ripped my calendar in half, and jumped into regular, average, non-amazing salt water to grab a seat on a rusty anchor. Every day since I’ve tried to high-five the dolphin next to me and enjoy what’s left of my free, but sluggish, ride.
The house will happen when it happens. In the meantime I'll keep living a very good life.
Photo of my gold foil to-do list. What? You don't have gilded lists? You must not love lists as much as I do.