Fixing the Floor: Value of the invisible

We now interrupt the frivolity for a brief interlude of profundity:

There is a concept in Judaism called Shmirat HaLashon, Guarding your Tongue.  This encompasses the injunctions against gossip, speaking ill of someone else, and even being too liberal with compliments.

The lesson is that words are powerful.  Even though they are intangible, their effects are very much corporeal.

Imagine your life as a tile floor with wooden sub-flooring.  None of us are perfect, and our misdeeds, whatever they are, are spills.  Most of the time, we see a spill, clean it up, and try not do it again.

But when we are careless with our words, we poke a minute hole in the grout.  Nothing noticeable.  If someone pointed it out we’d think they were being overly sensitive.  But as anyone who has had the misfortune of extensive water damage can tell you, one little hole can cause a lot of damage.

So now, the spill we caused seeps through the hole, instead of pooling on the tile.  We can’t clean it up, because it’s gone.

When the inspector comes to assess the house, the kitchen floor will be spotless.  But those spills have warped the sub-floor, causing extensive damage, requiring major repairs.

Believe it or not, this post has nothing to do with my kitchen or my words.  But this idea has me thinking about what seems important, versus what actually IS important.  Going back to the sub-floor analogy.  The top side is what we think is important.  The underside is what is important.  The tile is icing.  It doesn’t matter how pretty it is, if the sub-floor is warped, it will crack, sooner or later.

In life, ‘Womens’ Work’ is the sub-floor.  Entire houses fall without it.

My mother’s generation fought a long, hard battle on campus and in the work place.  My generation is grateful, but we can never understand exactly what they had to go through to get us here.  But from what I understand, the premise is that women can succeed in a Man’s World. I have a problem with this.  Who said the world belongs to Men in the first place?

When we entered the workplace, we played by the rules that were already established:  work (twice as) hard, get paid (not as much), and get promoted (slowly, not too high).  This is the way men work.  And somewhere along the line we accepted the premise.  These are the rules to which we bound ourselves.

But we never even questioned if this is the right way to do it.  This is fixing the tile instead of the sub-floor.  If we could change the orientation of the floor, we can teach everyone to work according to a new set of rules.

I have a lifetime to do what I can to flip the floor, to use a new measuring stick, not the one we’ve been using since my great-grandmother’s time.  I don’t know how far I’ll get, but I hope to have some of the work done by the time my daughter makes me a grandmother.  And I hope that all her grandmothers will be able to see the value in the invisible, that we are continuing their work, even if we’re measuring our successes differently.

Don’t fret!  More of Finding the Funny is coming up next!

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2 Responses to “Fixing the Floor: Value of the invisible”

  1. ima2seven Says:

    This is one of the best blog posts I have ever read. Will seriously try to post this wherever I can.

  2. tricolon Says:

    What a wonderful metaphor! Of course, it makes me look at the lack of floor in my kitchen in a whole new light!

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