May 24, 2004

Jaded Hot Tub

I have the "hot tub jades." I would call it the "hot tub blues," but my new tub is not blue. It is jade. I keep calling it green, but the salesman corrects me, "You mean jade." I think that jade costs more than green, just like "pearl" costs more than "off white." Color aside, my new hot tub has me stirred up.

I ordered the hot tub for our deck at home two months ago. I had to prepare for it by reinforcing the deck. The contractor said he would lie under the deck and dig the holes for the new concrete piers by hand. I asked him how deep the holes would be. He replied, "As long as my arm." Ah, the practical side of construction that I know nothing about.

Two months is plenty of time to prepare for installation and placement decisions. I agonized daily about exactly where the tub would go. The big day arrived, I was ready and all went well.

After filling, heating and treating, Merry and I were ready for our first soak together. We slid into the warmth and "oohed" and "aahed" away. At least she did. I was a wreck. I was second guessing all of the decisions that I had made. Should I have bought the bigger tub? Did I place it too close to the wall? Did I face it the wrong way? Did I get the wrong color? And on and on and on.

These questions and the resulting anxiety were eating me up. I could not relax and enjoy the hot tub with my wife. Months of joyful anticipation had resulted in disaster.

I told Merry what I was thinking and feeling. She said, "Let it go, Jim. Everything is fine. It's a great thing that you have done. You have made all of this happen."

Her words broke the spell of negativity. She was correct. I had worked hard to make this happen. Ninety eight percent of what I did was good. And the last two percent was probably good too, but open for debate by someone who was looking for debate.

My inner critic was looking for debate. It was looking for an opening to wound me, a self inflicted wound. I had allowed my inner critic to speak so loud that I missed the totality of what I had accomplished.

Inner critics are tough on perfectionists. The writer Julia Cameron named her inner critic Nigel, a proper, bony-fingered British gentleman. She talks back to Nigel so that he cannot run her life.

I am tired of missing the joy of life because of the debatable two percent. I am going to try to hold sight of the big picture and not get lost in the perfectionist details. Jade is just too lovely to miss.