My Broken Fridge
I can't believe I'm on vacation and sweating the small stuff!
My husband and I left town for our family vacation before my actual family did. We took a little private detour before the chaotic, I mean wonderful(!) experience of having (almost) everyone together.
Late at night I got a text from one of my children: “The fridge is broken”. Early in the morning I got a phone call reaffirming that message. I’m not totally shocked because it’s relatively old and I keep pouring money into it to keep it running and avoid the big sticker purchase. I think the time has come. I won’t bore you with the details but removing the old fridge and installing the new is a little tricky. It can be done but there are a few extra steps in the procedure. That’s not the point. The point is how the broken fridge has come to dominate my mind - and my “vacation”!
I am sitting in a very beautiful spot right now watching the sun rise over a glassy bay, having spent a lovely and relaxing Shabbos with friends and almost all I can think about is the hassle of dealing with my refrigerator. How it’s the last thing I need to add to my plate right now (clearly the Almighty feels differently) and on and on.
Despite years of effort at “not sweating the small stuff”, despite hours of counseling others to do the same, here I sit agonizing over my refrigerator. “I don’t have time to deal with it,” I keep moaning to my husband. “I need to hit the ground running when we get back.”
My husband tries unsuccessfully to respond with empathy and encouragement. But somehow “we’re about to embark on an expensive family vacation so let it go” just doesn’t do it for me! I’m taking deep breaths, refocusing on that glassy bay and reminding myself that it will all get done. Because I know it will. That in the grand scheme of things, this is very (very!) small. Because I know it is!
Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed by a challenge I look at the time line of Jewish history and reflect on the fact that this issue which seems so pressing right now is barely a speck on that diagram. The broken refrigerator doesn’t even rise to “speck” status. It’s not even worthy of pulling out those big guns to provide perspective. And ultimately, I know it’s all some manifestation of anxiety. If I’m not obsessed with finding the tile person to fix the floor underneath the fridge (one of the aforementioned extra steps) something else will take its place. There’s actually a long list of items waiting at the ready!
Maybe the broken fridge is actually a kindness; it keeps my mind from darker scenarios, God forbid. Either way, it’s time to move on, to lift up out of the trivial and focus on the opportunity in front of me - both the time with my husband and the time with my family. What a shame it would be if I didn’t enjoy either of those experiences because of my distraction over the need for a new kitchen appliance. It sounds so absurd when you put it like that.
The small stuff will always occur; that’s the way of the world. Our challenge is to keep it in its place, to deal with it while moving forward.
I remember many years ago when I was dealing with a very serious illness with one of my children. A friend called to check in and when I asked how she was, she proceeded to complain about her broken washing machine. I was a little taken aback. I had a sick child on my hands and this was her response?
I think of that now as I go down that road and as I regain perspective. It’s just a fridge. I even have an extra one in my garage! Deep breaths! Lifting up! Time to enjoy the precious moments of a trip with my kids and grandkids, moments that won’t come again. Could I really be so foolish as to waste a moment of that on my broken refrigerator?
It’s embarrassing. I’m letting go. Even in these small areas, we can pray and ask the Almighty to give us strength and help us maintain our focus. I’m going to enjoy this break and the wonderful opportunity to be with my family. The fridge will still be there when I get back (Don’t remind me!).