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Small Wonders: Finding a new structure

June 19, 2010|By Patrick Caneday

No Father's Day is complete without at least one of the following: A #1 Dad mug, a new tie, shirt or barbecue apron, a silly card about Dad's underwear or bathing habits and anything made of construction paper, Elmer's glue and uncooked macaroni.

To this I would add, a trip to the hardware store.

A few years ago for Father's Day, I made a pilgrimage to the hardware store, intent on buying a self-standing hammock. With visions of wasting my much-deserved day cradled in blissful repose, I would warmly reflect upon my father, my children and my own accomplishments as a dad. All while listening to Vin Scully on the radio.

At home, I assembled the stand, slung the hammock across it and looked for just the right place to plant myself. The problem, I soon found, was that there was no shade in the backyard.

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Ever inventive, I grabbed some fiberglass paneling from the scrap pile, a few fallen palm fronds, a broken ladder, two golf clubs, several yards of speaker wire and a retired lawn gnome, and set to building an elaborate structure to hover over the hammock shielding me from the sun's lethal rays.

But I gave little thought to gravity, physics and my general lack of construction skills.

Once built, I stood back to proudly admire my ragtag apparatus.

But as soon as I eased into the hammock under it, the entire thing collapsed upon me. Undaunted, I tried again and again. With every revised structure the same thing happened: complete destruction and no shade. I could hear that gnome chuckling.

My frustration grew, as did my anger at the world for denying me my day of perfect peace. I was blind to everything but making that moment live up to my wish.

I think about that hammock every Father's Day. It reminds me of something important: my limitations, failures and inability to live up to the often inflated and inaccurate view I have of the world.

Sound familiar?

I have a vision of the world that I believe is right and correct. If everything and everyone fell in line with me, all would be ideal.

That hammock isn't the only thing I enforce this illusion upon. I do it to my car, household appliances, exercise and office equipment. I do it to furniture, my lawn, garage, computer and home. I do it with the weather, the news, stoplights, Disneyland and the Dodgers.

But mostly, I do it to people.

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