Despite Gallant Efforts


Despite my gallant efforts

A noble start



A beautiful fall day. Sunshine. Amazing colors of leaves. Crisp air.

I decide to bike—instead of drive—the 2.1 miles to the synagogue where I’ll be teaching a course in a few weeks. We need to finalize some details.

The meeting ends and I realize that the Montavilla Sewing Center—where my machine has been repaired and is waiting to be picked up—is 0.7 extra miles away.

I pick up the machine and put it into the bike’s side basket. A bungee cord securing it in.

I wear a helmet, orange reflector vest, and gloves. Safety first.

However, the pothole I roll through on the way home—I didn’t think it was a big one—causes the machine to fly out of my basket, onto the street. Bang.

Nothing appears broken, but when I get home and plug the machine in, it has the exact problem that $119 was supposed to fix—it only does a straight stitch!





I drive back to the Montavilla Sewing Center muttering to myself. Crestfallen. I hand the machine to the same loopy-glasses-wearing woman from whom I picked it up no more than 30 minutes earlier.

She replaces the light bulb.

All stitches work again.

Apparently, the light bulb—which went out on impact—is needed to make all the stitches work.

I try not to wonder if that was the original problem and convince myself that the bulb had worked when I originally brought the machine in.

Life is easy when it works out the way we want.

The trick is learning to deal with it when it doesn’t.

If… then…


Emmett and I are in the garage—making a piece of art for him to give to Jane as a gift.

The vision he was of what he wants to make and the reality of what he is making him diverge too much for him to bear.

He bangs the table.

He screams, “I’m trying my hardest, and it’s still not coming out right!”

I’ve had that thought too.

We all have.

We think: If I put in effort, then things should work out.

We think: I am a good person, I shouldn’t suffer.

But it doesn’t work like that.

I was doing the right thing by picking up the sewing machine.

Emmett was trying his hardest.

And yet.

Reality is reality. 

I don’t need to tell you this in this crazy world and time in which we live.

Despite our gallant efforts, life does not always go as we desire.

The 77% Weekly

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