Life seems to enjoy teaching me things the hard way. Which is why I chose to become active in the self-help field: to share what I learned the hard way with others, so they can learn the easy way.
While this site is aimed at giving psychological, emotional, and also spiritual help, I like to occasionally give some tips on matters that would seem more “worldly”. What immediately comes to mind is an experience last weekend in which I learned how NOT to defrost a freezer.
Ice had accumulated in the freezer to the point that I could barely pull the ice-cube tray out. It was time to defrost. Having no “defrost” button, I first opened the refrigerator, and then unplugged it. But no, I was too impatient to wait for the ice to melt. Getting my trusty hammer, and a flat screwdriver to serve as a chisel, I decided to get to work on chopping out the ice. I put on an AC/DC album, cracked open a cold beer, and started chiseling, with the sweat from a hot Philippines afternoon pouring off me. It was quite the manly moment.
While I was trying to be relatively gentle in my exertions, and not swing like a maniac, you can only be so gentle when dealing with ice, and after about 15 minutes I hammered the back of the screwdriver onto the ice covering the left hand side of the freezer and heard an unmistakable “hissing” sound. Initially I thought it was some pent-up air coming from the ice . . . but then there came a slightly gaseous smell, and I knew I’d hit something I shouldn’t have.
It’s funny the way the mind works. I hadn’t used, or even heard, the word “Freon” in years, but immediately a word that I’d last heard in a junior-high science class – 25 years ago — came back in a rush. I also felt the cosmic realization that I’d definitely done something wrong. Seeing the hole where my screwdriver had punctured the side of the freezer made that truth even more obvious.
One nice thing about our digital age is that you can go online, type nearly anything into Google’s search function, and discover a horde of people who have the same problem as you. And in this case, “made hole in freezer when defrosting” yielded plenty of results. The only difference, as compared to when I have a computer problem, was that all of the advice and observations in the groups and boards was unanimous: my freezer was, in colloquial terms, “toast”! I read through the chats as much as I could, hoping that there would be one dissident in there who said it wouldn’t be a problem, but to no avail. My freezer would not be freezing anything again.
I always thought you plugged in a refrigerator and the cooling “magically” happened. But no: Freon is the agent that provides the cooling. Once that escapes the pipes, your freezer is defunct. Aside from calling a repairman – as the repairs required are quite technical (and expensive) – all you can do is buy a new refrigerator. That’s unless you don’t feel that you need a freezer – not an option out here in the tropics, where ice is a necessity! Giving it overnight to magically heal itself didn’t work either – a good night’s sleep can make some problems go away, but not a busted freezer.
Anyway, there is no deep philosophical lesson to be learned here. The lesson I learned was to not use sharp pointed objects to remove ice from the freezer, or you’ll be buying a new refrigerator.
And that’s what was already written on the side of the refrigerator, if I’d bothered to read it.
Nonetheless, there was a sort of spiritual element to all of this. Five years ago, during my depression, I would have both beaten myself up for what had happened, and also cursed my luck and my life. I’d have spent the night torturing myself by examining my finances over and over in my head, and loathing myself. My poor decision, resulting from ignorance – which is all it was – would have been catastrophized into how terrible my life was, what a fool I was, and what bad decisions I’d made in the past to get me to this point of ruining a freezer.
But none of them did. Since becoming a happier and more positive person, with greater peace of mind, I don’t turn small problems into catastrophes. I ask God for serenity, courage, and wisdom for precisely that reason. And they are all granted to you, if you only ask.
As I mention in my book, Winning the Fight to Be Happy, every situation in life involves a choice of perspective. Naturally, in this case I don’t relish having to use my disposable income for the month on buying a new fridge. At the same time, I’m thankful that I actually HAVE the disposable income to do so. Part of the function of having money is being able to protect yourself against adversities, which are inevitable.
It’s also nice to think that this is a mistake I shall never make again. It’s an easy one not to make twice. No sharp objects to defrost a freezer. And now it’s a mistake you don’t have to make at all!