Do you remember learning the four types of literary conflicts in high school literature class?  Let me refresh your memory.  They’re man versus man, man versus nature, man versus society, and man versus self.  Well, there’s one more that isn’t in the textbooks.  It’s man versus water pipe.  Now, do you remember all the elements of a good story?  The story I’m about to tell you is non-fiction.  It takes place on our franch.  There is only one character to develop in my story.  It’s my husband.  He is incredibly skilled with a stethoscope and intubation tube but not so much with a pipe wrench and plunger.  The setting is in the barn and pastures near water troughs or anywhere there’s an outdoor pipe.  The plot of this story repeats itself every couple of months.  A pipe starts leaking.  Sometimes a few days pass before we realize there’s a problem.  It’s usually when our well runs dry and there isn’t any water coming from the kitchen faucet in the morning.  Often still in pajamas, a frantic search ensues for a puddle of water.  You’d think the climax of the tale would be when the leak is located.  Not quite yet.  It’s just the beginning of man versus water pipe.  It usually takes several attempts to get water flowing again.  This occurs over several days (sometimes weeks) because my husband also has to save lives in the emergency department.  He’ll return home one day from a shift having inserted a tube into a patient’s windpipe to restore airflow and feel inspired to finish the pipe repair that restores water to the barn.  The climax of the story is when we no longer have to fill the water troughs with buckets of water from a house faucet.  The theme of the story is that mistakes are opportunities to learn something new.  Each way that doesn’t work in repairing the water pipe is actually a step forward in the right direction.  My husband rarely makes the same mistake twice so he’s eventually successful as George Bernard Shaw encouraged, “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”  Conflict, in whatever form it takes, can make us grow in ways we never anticipated.  I must admit, my husband has become quite skilled at outdoor plumbing.  Still, even with all his successes at the barn, only expert plumbers fix the pipes inside our franch house.  I don’t think my husband is quite ready to take on “man versus wife.”

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