A Lesson learned.

Have you ever had to lay flooring? The work itself is not easy, as you’re on your knees on a sub-floor most of the time, bending at the waist, and generally uncomfortable all the time. If that weren’t enough, there’s the problem of actually laying the flooring itself. If you’re working in a newer structure, things aren’t so bad. Usually the walls are straight, the sub-floor itself is level, and the process is fairly straight-forward.

Older houses, on the other hand, are another matter completely.

Finding a wall to work off of that’s straight is somewhere between difficult impossible You find little dips and hollows in the sub-flooring if you’re lucky, outright patches and major swales or dips if you’re not. Then there are any and all openings in the sub-floor to worry about. These can be anything from air vents to (in bathrooms) drains and toilets that need to be accommodated. What you do next depends on you. If you have the time and money (or skills), you can rework the room, leveling the sub-floor and bringing the walls into something approaching straight lines. If your budget (or skills) don’t allow for this sort of mass rebuild, then you go to Plan B: you make the flooring fit the job at hand. Where the walls aren’t quite straight, you set a point to call “square” and work away from that. You adapt to the changes in the wall by “scribing” or trimming the flooring to allow for the variable straightness of the existing wall. You fill in the dips as well as you can and accommodate the bigger deviations as well as you can. When you get to an opening, you take a ton of measurements, double check them, make a pattern to make sure everything will fit when you go to lay the flooring in place, then you cut the flooring and hope like hell you’ve thought of everything!

If you pay attention, if you take the time you need to to check and double check yourself, what you end up with might not please a contractor, but it will be something you’re not ashamed to let other people see. In short, it gets the job done and that’s what’s important.

Life is a lot like that. You can run into a problem, set there, draw up what you think is the ideal plan, then try to make everything work to fit your plan. Alternately, you can look at what you’re likely to be able to do, and what you can reasonably expect to get done, and work from there. You can either fight to get things perfect as you see them, or you can ‘scribe’ you ideas to fit the way things are going. Some people see the only way to get something done as following the first path, to come up with the perfect plan and stick with it no matter what. Other people come up with an idea, then figure out how to get as close to it as they can given the situation at hand.

Guess which one more often succeeds? If you picked the latter, congratulation! The world belongs to you, now figure out your best path forward.

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