A (late) lecturer in Philosophy once told me, while we were spending our little free time on campus “… I do not agree or disagree. There is no such thing as second chance. Once the vase is broken, it will always be broken. Even if you manage to put it back together to the smallest dust, it will never be the same as before. So as with sin”

That’s right. Even when time heals, even when Jesus payed for our sin, a sin is a sin, mistake is mistake, wrong is wrong. I can amend it, atone for it, fix it, or make it better, but what happened, happened.

The conversation unleashed in me the monster that many cannot stand: my extreme perfectionist. Do it the best possible, or don’t do it.

I can accept people’s imperfection. A notch on some sewing, some stain after mopping, a piece of cat hair forgotten in the corner. A bottle of cleaner not returned at the end of the job.

It will enrage me, however, if people do their job with only half of their ass. When they said they can do it, but they do it haphazardly. When they said they can listen, but like the builders, fix one thing, brake another.

And they scraped the wall I did not want scraped, and they scraped it halfway and left it that way as soon as they realized they were scraping the wrong wall.

And they also left some big crack when they hit their hammer on the other side.

The more they did it in veiled (I typed veiled, as it is, but I read it as failed, as fact is) attempts to prolong their working time (and get more money), the more pissed I am, but someone has to do it, because I have other things to do.

Christine (Stewart) asked me: can people be trusted to do their job? We were joking that time, but the joke has some sinister truth.
See, big sis, this is why I always ended up doing everything myself. I am picking other people’s slack.

And then Bingbing is stressed (she is calmer now, and slowly cheering back up), and the cats are stressed (and when they are stressed they are thinking and littering out of the box – pun intended), and Cali sneeze from all the dust, Sierra has diarrhea, and Bandit has swollen eyes.

And the pretty little girl from the senate’s building (her story on: Oh come, girl, be faithful), and the little yellow girl (her story on White Christmas, Blue Christmas), and the one with damaged eye, and my white knight (his story on O Lonely Knight)

And every single time I passed that wall, I was enraged.

I was supposed to only paint one wall, now I have four, lack of time, less money than I should (because I have to keep replacing what the builders broke), and picking up someone else’s mess.

So I hall my deck and found a recommendation of a wall paper hanger. He was courteous, he was professional, he was sensible. He might or might not have affinity for animals, but once I told him I have cats, he limited my choice on only those made with eco friendly and pet safe products. I picked some of his collection, he adviced me on prices, and in two days he had someone come over, wade through boxes and things scattered everywhere, with big, heavy bag of samples to be pasted on the wall to make sure I am spending my money for something I am going to be happy with.

It’s not perfect, but I call that perfect.

And the guy called his boss with the measurements immediately, and the boss checked his stock and came back to his man in minutes, and he calculates how much I should pay, and whether I would like to keep my choices or change to something cheaper or reduce the combination to bring the expenses down, and upon learning that I will keep my choice, his man briefed him on what happened to the wall, and he gave me ample time to make it workable. No need to be perfect, but good enough to live with.

It’s not perfect, but I call that perfect. See? I am not Scrooge.

They are coming today, but I was still running everywhere until Monday evening, but someone has to pick that slack on the wall, so I went to the hardware store after checking the colony.

Instead of pulling my bowl without my consent and filling it with concrete like the builders did, I used a paper bowl. It can stand cement and water for at least two hours and it’s disposable, so? I used a paper cup instead of using a Tupperware tumbler that the builders magically produced from my drawer (not sure when they did that, but I wasn’t around), and I used a used paintbrush instead of buying and breaking a putty scraper.

It’s not perfect, but I am not a builder.

I watched it on YouTube, and I listened to a professional wallpaper hanger: “If you can feel it, you can see it”. So I use my favorite body part, the one that God gave to me and I really love: my fingers. It used to touch only piano and organ, keyboard, and the hardest it ever suffer is violin string, but now it is touching harsh and coarse concrete, without gloves.

When I feel bumps and cracks, I brush cement and water. And on, and on, from bottom to the top, where there was this rather large crack, and one other just slapped with cement and sand.

Then I washed my hand, put moisturizer, and made myself a cup of hot chocolate.

A senior in university once sat by my side after I berated a team member who did things haphazardly (I was still a very strict and unforgiving perfectionist then).
“Ah, the pain of working in a team. I feel you. If we want things to be perfect, we do it ourselves, but if we want things to be complete, we do it with others. We can only choose one, unfortunately”

So as I brush my wall and fill in the cracks, one after another, and followed where the cracks goes, I am coming to terms with the imperfection. Whoever built the wall is not perfect. It cracks with one bang. The builders are not perfect. I am not perfect.

As I saw the cement drying up, I am coming to term with what I had hoped to happen, and what actually happened. I put upon myself an intense pressure because I am holding a fortune: the donation money everyone is working so hard for. I am holding a chance that does not come once every so often. I am holding the lives of many cats through the trust people put in me.

And then, as I came back to the ladder and sand the wall to make it as smooth as possible, as I again run my fingers and feel the bumps that I made, I am coming to terms with other people’s mistakes that I have to atone, and my own mistakes in trusting them, perhaps more than I should.

When I am done, half of the wall still painted, but it’s smooth. The cracks are still there, some of the lines are still showing, but it’s smooth.

No matter how beautifully hung the wallpaper will be, I will always know there are half assed job done under it. I will always remember the story. I will still be enraged. What has been broken, is broken, there is no second chance and the wall won’t be pristine again.

But I will also remember the love and trust people gave me. I will also remember the chance that came. I will also remember that while it only needs one person to make it perfect, it takes more than just one to make it complete.

I will remember that it takes more than just God to make Jesus complete. God needs Mary, and Joseph, and the three wise men, and the shepherds, and God even needs yet another to make that manger. Yes, Jesus pays for it all, but it takes more than God and His finger to make it happen, although He can, if He wants to.

I looked down on my sandy fingers, now with cracks and traces of my fingerprints on the drying concrete.

My mummy Trish said, “Maybe, with all that happened, God wants your attention?”

I told Christine (Vincent) “If God really want something from me, He should come down here and talk to me in a language I can understand instead of throwing things to my face.”

I also told her once, “If He really needs me to care for the cats, why did He treat me this way?”

So in fixing the wall, my sandy claws is coming to term, that while God needs me to do the big job, He needs others to make me complete my job, He need others so I am complete enough to get my job done, even with cuts and bruises in the inside.

And while he uses others to complete the wall, and renovation on the kitchen, He uses my own fingers to get it done.

~ Josie


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Josie And The Whiskers' Syndicate

The first and only cat refuge in Bandung (West Java - Indonesia) a capital breeder of a nation without animal welfare law. We care for Bandung's unwanted animals, operate a TNR as much as our budget allows, and continue to educate people about compassion to animals

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