Bucket List

Over my decades of remodeling and home construction projects, I’ve needed lots of buckets of water. Sometimes for mixing drywall mud or masonry mortar, sometimes for preparatory cleaning, sometimes for washing up afterwards. Most of the time, I’ve used five-gallon plastic buckets. Most of those originally contained drywall compound. It’s been mighty rare that I bought a new bucket; just seemed like a waste of money.

Regardless of source or expenditure, filling those buckets has sometimes been a source of embarrassment. Fairly often, especially when filling the buckets using the kitchen sink instead of an outside hose or hydrant, I’ll persuade myself that I have time—while the water is running—to take care of some other simple chore. Frequently, though not invariably, while doing that simple chore I’ll think of another simple chore… and another… By the time I remember the original task of filling the bucket, the bucket has been well filled. And more.

Most times, it’s fairly harmless. The overflow drains right on down the sink and there’s no consequence other than wasted water, personal embarrassment, and reminder of how well-earned my reputation for distractibility and/or absent-mindedness is. A couple of years ago, though, I left water running in the sink and didn’t discover it until hours later. Had to replace a few pieces of laminate flooring in that particular episode. Grrr…

With that lesson somehow fading in memory, I was helping Jeremiah (my youngest son) and Misty with some remodeling at their place back in January. Sure enough, I left a bucket filling in the sink and returned later to find Misty turning off the water as the bucket overflowed. No harm done other than to my ego.

It became a joke while I was there. “Are you running water in the sink, Papa Doc?” “No? Are you sure?”

While trying to soothe my ego and salvage my reputation after I returned home, I began reporting to Misty whenever I’d managed to fill a bucket without mishap. I even sent her a video a few days ago to document that I’d successfully completed my sixth consecutive bucket filling. I was going to send her another text day before yesterday congratulating myself on my eighth victory when a more serious thought occurred to me.

Anticipating her asking me to what I thought I owed my recent success, I half-jokingly thought, “It was when I quit lying to myself about what would happen if I walked away from the sink while the water was running.”

We human types long ago perfected the art of self-deception. Again and again and again we somehow manage to convince ourselves that “this time will be different” even though we keep doing the same blasted thing. Magically, the same behavior will yield different results this time. Why? Well, because we want it to!

Sometimes it’s just embarrassing. Too often, those lies we choose to believe about our own actions leave us with a much bigger mess than a few gallons of water on the floor.

H. Arnett


About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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