|Often shortened to: scale a flaky deposit left in containers such as kettles by the action of heat on water containing calcium salts
This is the definition of the word ‘limescale’ according to Dictionary.com (one of my all-time favourite websites by the way!)
Now, in order for this story to make sense you have to understand one thing- I love to clean. I clean when I’m happy and I clean when I’m stressed out. With a scouring pad, bucket, mop and various detergents in hand, I am an unstoppable force. Today the bathroom-tomorrow the world!
Ahem! Okay, back to reality. That was a slightly manic deviation from what I wanted to say. So yesterday found me scrubbing away in the bathroom. I was cleaning the tiles and paused for a moment to wash the scouring pad. I happened to graze the tap with the scouring pad and to my surprise, a tiny little bit of the murky limescale that covers this tap came off. I was amazed. My curiosity piqued, I scrubbed the tap with the pad. More came off. I poured Vim in earnest on the scouring pad and really attacked the tap. You have to understand, this is a tap that has been covered in murky grey limescale for years. I scrubbed and scrubbed and slowly, inch by inch, the shiny chrome exterior of the tap was revealed. I stood up and examined my work- all was agleam, all aglow. The tap looked like new. I was so proud! Never mind that my shirt was clinging to my back and my thighs were screaming for mercy because I’d been squatting for so long, determined to clean even the underside of the tap. (Housework is a real workout, by the way).
As I scrubbed, I realized that relationships and taps covered in limescale have a lot in common. We start out all shiny and brand new, like the tap. And then the effect of heat and hard water form a small layer over the tap. It’s not so bad. But it does reduce the shine a little. And then next week the layer is a bit thicker. Next month you think “this tap doesn’t look so good.” And in a few months-you begin to think the tap was made of dull-looking mabati. The heat and the hard water, in the case of relationships, refer to the strains and stresses that any and every relationship goes through. You have a stupid argument with your best friend and because you’re so sure you’re right, you don’t bother to apologize. Life goes on as normal. Layer one. She begins to think you’re unfeeling but is afraid to say anything because she knows she’ll come off looking too emotional and not making sense. So maybe she stops telling you the little things. You realize something has shifted but you don’t quite know what. Layer two. Or in the case of the family. Your Mum seems to be always on the phone nagging you, “Why don’t you come home more often? Did you go to see your cousin’s baby?” Or regaling you with the fascinating tales of all her latest aches and pains. Some time passes. You never call first. You miss out on functions all the time. You can’t tell who is whose kid. And so the phone calls reduce and the invitations become less. Everyone imagines that you’re too busy and too important- that you just can’t be bothered. That’s layers of limescale right there.
I also thought of the layers that form in us, that prevent us from really seeing people for what they are. I remember one of my neighbours where I used to live. He was so in my face, wanting to talk to me, hang out and so on. I always ran away because I thought he was being annoying. “I know you but we don’t have to be friends” was my motto. Well, that was until one day when I really desperately needed help. My friends were not around and this ‘annoying’ neighbour really came through for me in a big way. He went above and beyond what anyone would have expected of him. Underneath the annoying behaviour (as I had perceived it) was a kind, intelligent and big-hearted person. And courageous enough to try and scale the metre high walls I had put up around myself. After that day, I could not believe I had not seen all these good qualities before. Maybe I too, had layers on. Layers that prevented me from seeing who he really was.
So the moral of this is: limescale is grey and ugly and it will cost you three litres of sweat to get it off. I’m going to start by removing the layers on me that prevent me from seeing other people clearly.
How about you, what layers do you need to remove today?