Making Easy Things Hard

Lessons in Letting Go (or Not)

Cheryl Leutjen
3 min readJul 24, 2023

Today, I had it out with my garden hose. I’m not proud of it, but I’m in a confessional mood. I’d like to say I won, but that would be like saying I beat myself in a fist fight. With myself.

Because didn’t I create the whole altercation? I mean, sure, the blasted thing was snarled around its rusting reel, and refused to unfurl just six more inches — JUST SIX MORE INCHES! How hard is that? That’s all I needed to reach the lovely native sage I recently planted, which was totally a Good Thing. We introduced another native plant to delight the local fauna, the hummingbirds and the butterflies. I’m so overcome with my own righteousness, I gotta wear shades to shield my eyes from the sanctimonious glow. Why can’t the bleeping garden hose acknowledge my virtuousness and help me out just a freaking little?

Sure it sounds ridiculous to you, because it is, but it all makes sense if you are me. And I don’t blame you for being glad you’re not.

Because I like to make things hard. The simpler the task, the more I take perverse pleasure in making it more difficult, thereby giving myself a basis for indulging in my favorite pastime: complaining.

Did I take five minutes to untangle the garden hose before using it? I did not because that would deprive me of the aforesaid perverse pleasure of grumbling about my First World problems. The ones I create. And endeavor to make harder. Which makes retelling the story of the whole calamity all the more dramatic. Over a nice frosty mug.

Funny thing is that you’ll rarely hear me complain about the Big Stuff. Not enough money to pay this month’s bills? Radio silence. I got diagnosed with cancer? I’ll regale you with the horrors of my annoying hangnail. Tangled garden hose? Let me sit right down and compose a long, bloated blog post about that.

I suppose it’s easier to deal with the small stuff, to know where to draw a line in the sand, delineate what’s good and what’s bad, to find the holy ground. The garden hose is either tangled or it’s not. The sewing machine is either making a seam or the thread broke mid-stitch. Without any provocation whatsoever, who does that? Grr. I work through a lot of procrastination to take up the mending, and I’d appreciate some acknowledgement, some support from the machine that would otherwise sit idle.

But cancer? It’s not so easy to sum up how I feel about it, to draw that hard line, or know who to blame. Genetic testing shows I carry no genetic markers for uterine cancer, so how did I get it? Oh, oh, I know! It must’ve been caused by all the carcinogens in our environment, they’re everywhere. So I get to blame the ruthless people and moneygrubbing companies that pollute — and the lawmakers & regulators who let them get away with it.

But, sigh, I’ll never know who, exactly or how or if that’s even what happened, so there’s no clearly-identified, snarled green garden hose to blame. I like certainty, a face to pin to the dartboard, when I rant.

Which brings me back to the garden hose. A simple apology would’ve sufficed, but it’s got nothing to say for itself; it just sits there flaunting its snarl. I give it a kick, and no one’s feelings, except for those in my big toe, are hurt by that. Garden hoses hold no grudges.

Sitting now at my kitchen table, I see the sage waving in the breeze just outside the window, as if pleading for sustenance on this scorching hot afternoon. Eventually, I’ll take pity, summon my only smidgeon of patience to untangle the hose and give us all a break from my pointless berating of inanimate objects.

Just as soon as I’m finished chewing out the ice maker. Must it jam up on the hottest day of the year? I grab a knife to stab at the clogged ice. This is going to be fun.



Cheryl Leutjen

Teetering on a tightrope between more conscientious living and eco-madness, I write about responding to the challenges of our time with heart, hope, and humor.