I was pretty proud of myself for getting it all emptied out without cursing or getting frustrated that it was so difficult. In that state of pride, I went to put the cover back on, piece the top together with the latch, and stuck a pencil in the sharpener.
Nothing. It didn't work. I think I broke it.
So I look at it closer, and I notice a gap between the bottom of the cover, and base of the sharpener. There's also a little button that needs to get pushed to complete the electrical connection to the device. It was missing a piece. The piece that fit under the cover, and pressed the button.
I didn't see a piece fall out, I didn't see any other bits. But it was obviously missing. There was a quarter inch gap, and the sharpener wouldn't work without that piece. So I went back to the trash where I dumped the shavings, and went through the trash bit by bit. Ew.
Still, I managed to not curse, not get mad. Just go through the trash, just go through the trash. It had to be there somewhere and cursing or getting mad wasn't going to make it easier, I told myself. I remembered the monks who use cleaning toilets and scrubbing floors as practice. Just go through the trash.
After going through a bit of the pile, I reached last night's meal of burritos, refried beans, and salsa. It couldn't have fallen this far, could it? But it wasn't anywhere else. Plus, I didn't even know what I was looking for, since I didn't remember seeing the piece fall off. I imagined what the piece must look like, and kept digging around. In the muck. In the goo. Ew.
But after much digging, and several mantras later, there was no denying it. The piece just wasn't there. Or, I simply wasn't seeing it. I started berating myself - how could I have been so dumb to drop that in the trash? Why couldn't I find it? Now it's broken, and I'll have to buy a new one. One more chore to do! My husband is going to be annoyed, and think I'm an idiot. My kids will be disappointed. All I wanted to do was clean out the pencil sharpener, and look what happened.
I was deflated.
As I was looking at the machine, mad at myself, kicking myself for adding more to my to do list, and going through all the things that were wrong with this particular situation - about a pencil sharpener! - I saw the solution.
Not sure how it happened upon me, but it did. I had put the cover on upside down.
I flipped it over, and it fit perfectly. There was no missing piece.
Let us reduce our suffering by having the awareness to see problems from multiple directions, and letting ourselves have patience before assigning blame, projecting into future problems, and worrying what others might think.