Shelf That for Now

The story I’m about to share is a little embarrassing, but I hope it will be helpful to anyone feeling blocked by an obstacle that appears to be beyond their control. This experience was a powerful reminder of how easy it is to delay happiness when we get stuck into thinking something needs to be a certain way.

You may recall that I moved into a new apartment several weeks ago. Except for a few minor items, everything was in good working order when I moved in. One of the items that needed attention was a shelf in my bedroom closet. Someone installed it incredibly close to the ceiling so only very small items could be placed on top.

That shelf is also one of the only places to hang clothes. Anyone of shorter stature would not be able to use it. At 5’10”, I can reach it if I stretch, but it’s not very practical. Since this is the only closet in my entire apartment, having one of the 3 shelves inconveniently placed is not ideal.

The following day, I visited the leasing office to let them know about the things that needed attention. Unfortunately, the leasing agent working that day was not the friendliest in the bunch. She said she would write work orders for these items, however moving the shelf was probably not going to happen because the shelf was like that when I moved in. 

As you can imagine, I was not thrilled with her answer. This was not an extravagant request. I wasn’t asking them to remodel the kitchen. I just needed a shelf lowered a few inches! 

When Joe, the maintenance worker, arrived the next day to address the other issues, I asked if he’d mind taking a look at the shelf. He agreed that it was installed much too high and said he would come back to move it later in the week. Joe was able to fix the other issues relatively quickly and seemed very friendly and knowledgeable. I had no reason to doubt he’d return.

With the expectation the shelf would be moved within a few days, I left everything that would eventually go in the closet in piles around my bedroom. Among the assortment of boxes, bags, and linens were two large 4×4 storage cubes. I wedged them between my dresser and my bed. It seemed silly to fill the closet with all this stuff only to pull it out again when Joe returned.

Two weeks passed. No return visit. I saw Joe working on the pool filter one day and politely inquired about my shelf. He told me the other maintenance guy called in sick for the entire  week so he was swamped with work orders. He promised to get to my shelf as soon as he could. 

Given these circumstances, I knew my shelf was not a high priority, so I patiently waited. And waited. And waited. Two more weeks passed and I was still sleeping in what felt like a storage unit. 

The following week I would be traveling out of town. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Joe moved the shelf while I was away? I decided to nudge that idea along by calling the leasing office from the airport while waiting to board my plane. I prayed that the less-than-helpful leasing agent would be off that day. I was so grateful when the exceptionally friendly property manager answered the phone. As soon as I told her my name, she said, “Oh right! You want that shelf moved.” 

I was shocked she knew of my request, let alone able to recall it just by hearing my name. She apologized profusely that it hadn’t been done yet. One of her maintenance crew members was still out sick. I was impressed when she owned that this was no excuse for letting it go so long. I told her I understood my shelf wasn’t an emergency, but it would be great if it could be moved while I was away. She wrote out a new work order and assured me it would be taken care of as soon as possible. Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel!

Sadly, the light at the end of the tunnel was extinguished quickly when I returned home. The shelf had not been touched. It had been a long travel day and I was tired and irritated. Why was it so hard to get a shelf moved?  

You may be wondering why I didn’t move it myself. Not only do I not have the tools required for such a project, I do not have much experience in this area. Yes, I could have bought tools, but this didn’t feel like a practical solution. What might easily have been an all-day project for me would probably take Joe about 30 minutes to complete. Plus, this shelf would support a lot of weight. If I installed it incorrectly, the whole thing could come crashing down on me. So I waited.

Two more weeks passed. It had now been a month and a half since I moved in and my bedroom still felt like a storage unit. I’m certain it was affecting my sleep. That Saturday morning I woke up, looked at all the clutter around me, and something snapped. I couldn’t stand it one moment longer!

I got out of bed and moved the two large storage cube units into the closet. Then I started filling them with the assortment of bags and boxes piled up around my room. I was pleasantly surprised when all of the larger items fit nicely into those cubes. I was even more surprised to find plenty of smaller items that fit on top of the high shelf. 

Granted, I had to stand on a chair to place them up there, but I was quickly able to fill that awkward space. Then it occurred to me to move the clothes I don’t wear often to that high shelf and leave the rest on the lower shelf. This solved the problem of constantly reaching for clothes. Now the shirts I wear all the time are easily accessible. 

Before I knew it, everything was in the closet with room to spare! Why hadn’t I done this weeks ago? I could have been sleeping better and avoided a great deal of frustration and irritation. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I had the power to return all along. For her, to return home. For me, to return to peace. 

There would be no journey of discovery (and no movie!) if Dorothy knew about the power of the ruby slippers from the start. Likewise, I wouldn’t have received this humbling lesson if I moved everything into my closet right away. Although it was extremely unpleasant, it was a powerful reminder that my happiness really doesn’t depend on things being a certain way.

Speaking of home and happiness, once everything found a home in my closet, I spent the rest of the weekend finding homes for my artwork, photos, and sacred objects. My apartment finally feels like home!

But wait. The story doesn’t end there. Four days later, I heard a knock at my door. It was a maintenance worker from another property sent to help catch up on the work orders at this property. He came to move my shelf. What could I do but laugh? I thanked him for coming and told him his services were no longer needed. I wasn’t about to haul everything out of that darn closet now that I finally got it in there! Nothing needed to change. I was already at peace. 

Are you waiting for something to change before you can be happy? Whether this something is large or small, I invite you to consider the possibility that this something may not be necessary for you to return to peace. I would be honored to assist you on this journey with a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or a Private Family Constellations Session. Both can help you release the obstacles to the awareness of love’s presence right now. Sessions can be done from anywhere in the world thanks to technology. Please visit my website for more information and to book a session. I look forward to walking with you a while! 

Be not content with future happiness.

A Course in Miracles ~ T-26.VIII.9:1

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