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Whenever I feel bad for any length of time, say, such as when my aunt dies suddenly and she won’t be at Thanksgiving dinner as usual and then in turn neither will her husband or son, or any of the other people she inspired to participate in my life, I know it is wise to go visit someone else’s life. So I did that last week. I spent the morning doing Goodworks, that is making a home safer, warmer and dryer for a woman in certain need.

I saw that Stepanie, the homeowner, was a 26-year old woman with two small children, no apparent man in her life and a falling down trailer home in great need of repair. She was not easy to engage in conversation about anything even though we were the only two women their that morning. She was quiet and watchful as we worked on her home. Possibly depressed. The foreman handed her gloves and suggested she join in which she silently did. Eventually Stephanie and I were left alone together to tear out a ceiling, the insulation behind it and then cut and reinstall new insulation, despite the fact that neither of us had ever done anything like that before.

By the time we’d torn out, thrown out, unrolled, measured, cut and were ready to install the new insulation Stephanie was warming up a bit. Neither of us were skilled with the tools we used and it turns out that for this job you get to use a staple gun. Ours literally shot staples, en masse, across the room unexpectedly due to a faulty something or other. It happened over and over even though various people ‘fixed’ it for us each time. By the time I left we’d worked together and laughed together and felt proud of our work together, and as usual, I was quite glad I’d done Goodworks.

It is wise to visit another’s life.