Somewhere along the line, I acquired a cheap little eyebrow pencil sharpener. Wasn’t much – a gimcrack drugstore model – and I used it every so often when needed.
OK, every so often for several years.
And after how many ever years, the thing started losing its edge. Every time I tried to draw an almost straight line across the rim of my eyelashes there would be sharp, pointy slivers of wood at the tip and I’d have to position the pencil just so to avoid cutting my eye.
Did you read that? I am telling you that day after day, I stuck a pointy stick in my eye.
It is, in fact, reasonable to ask: What was I thinking? I’ll tell you exactly what I was thinking. I was thinking the thought chanted by successive generations of my forebears:
“You paid for it, you own it, you better use it.”
Or its equivalent (which my cousins will shout with me):
“You can reuse plastic forks! Wash the Solo cups! Rinse out your Ziploc bags! I remember when six of us would share one banana!”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, I know, I know.
So use it I did, grumbling and anxious (the daily sharp stick in the eye worry). But did I ever consider tossing it in the trash and buying a new one?
Until I came home from a recent trip and found that I’d lost Old Ophthalmologist’s Nightmare.
Did I rush out and buy a new one? No, the words of my ancestors ringing in my ears, I used my semi-sharpened, splintery pencils sequentially until there weren’t even any nubs left. Which, naturally, prompted an Eyebrow Pencil Crisis.
Which might have pushed some women – and a few guys – to rush out to the store and pick up a replacement.
No, yours truly just went without makeup for a few days – wouldn’t any new sharpener ultimately produce splinters? – until I noticed that a new cosmetics store had opened up on the same block as the yogurt shop where my daughter is now working. Huh.
Dropped the kid off and strolled into the riot of scents and girlyness and asked, as nonchalantly as my non-made up self could muster, “Do you carry eyebrow pencil sharpeners?” The woman squinted as if she was thinking hard and said, “Yes, we have a great one from Nars, right here.”
I didn’t even look at it. Just eased over to the register and paid… $6.30.
OK, there is a punchline, but you’ll have to wait for it.
That evening, I decided to try it out. I was not optimistic, I have to tell you. What could a $6.30 pencil sharpener possibly do but poke me in the eye? Alone in my bathroom, I inserted the first pencil. And twisted.
Once. Twice. Three times.
And pulled out a perfectly sharpened eyebrow pencil. I’m talking from the factory perfect. Like it had never been used perfect.
I was amazed. I got a little zealous and sharpened every pencil in the makeup drawer – even ones I don’t use.
And I thought:
“What else in my life am I putting up with – that’s causing me stress – when there’s a new, simple solution out there?”
The next few days, I inventoried and remedied those vexing little things around my house that I was living with because they were “good enough” and “paid for.” I replaced a cracking and peeling toilet seat. I got new towels. I hauled out a screwdriver and fixed a kitchen cabinet. I threw out three tee-shirts that really were ratty.
How’d it feel?
Lighter. Freer. Simpler. Less stress. More gratitude.
Gratitude because I have the means and ability to address the things that were in my way.
And guess what? You, too, have the exact same means and ability.
You can change whatever you’re simply putting up with because it’s already in place.
A horrendous commute? A rattle-trap car? A bully boss? A dead-end job?
A situation that’s just not going to change?
You might think there’s nothing you can do. Any solution is going to be expensive. And hard.
And maybe poke you in the eye.
That’s all it took for me. And you? Your solution might even be easier.
And it’ll be better than a poke in the eye.