Tuesday, September 10, 2002

THE NEED TO MEDDLE is something that most of us have in some measure or another. We can't just leave well enough alone or recognize that doing something isn't always better than doing nothing. In the political realm, Bill Clinton was the master of meddling and a lot of my friends, even the conservative ones, repeat the mantra, "But we have to do something," about whatever current crisis is looming. That's the mentality that brings us long airport lines and random searches of old ladies in wheel chairs. This need to fix things that aren't actually broken or fix them in the least useful and efficient way possible also spills over into personal life way too frequently. Putting together a house is a lot of work under any circumstances, but when you are working under the deadline of a baby's impending arrival, it can be overwhelming. We bought an old house in very good, recently renovated shape. That means nothing had to be done to it right away. Somehow we've managed to already make this far more of a project than necessary, by changing almost every light fixture in the house, painting a bedroom and a wide variety of other home improvement projects that, while nice to have done, could certainly have waited for a more opportune time. I'm not sure what drives man to meddle and to fix things that aren't actually broken. I guess we believe we know best and if only we can put our stamp on something it will suddenly become perfect. We ignore, of course, that we are imperfect creatures and our attempts at perfecting the universe, either on a large or small scale, will quite possibly create larger issues and more difficult problems -- whether that is the Middle East Crisis or the mirror we pulled down only to discover that we need to plaster a wall now.

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