Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
‘Tis April, weather –
cool one minute warm the next –
This week I am admiring the son. He is demonstrating tenacity and self-reliance. Since December he has been enjoying the trials of car ownership, you know, the cost of gas, insurance, maintenance. All the fun stuff of turning on a key and having the convenience of your own motorized metal box that can take you anywhere you want any time you want.
He’s one of those road less traveled kids. After losing with the school district over teaching through his dyslexia, (they illegally abandoned any attempt to aid him in graduating in his 13th year, but that’s another story), I told him he didn’t have to go back to high school if he obtained his GED in the next 30 days. He’d been working for a year and had some money saved, and though he dragged it out to the last minute, he achieved the goal I had set for him, paid for it with his own money, and earned three out of five honors scores.
He had earned Eagle Scout the year before. He didn’t have the most optimal experience, but it’s about the journey and what you learn. He earned it for himself despite repeated set-backs. Despite all the current controversy regarding the scouting organization, and an interesting experience on our part, I still believe in the values scouting instills in young men, values of ethics, morality, and honesty. He is an Eagle Scout forever, the rest of his life. Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.
For the last several weeks, his car has been parked in the driveway and he has been taking the bus to work. A part needed replacing, so with each paycheck he bought a part, or a tool, or liquid, or an instruction manual, and day after day worked on the car. After weeks of moaning and groaning, cussing and yelling, he drove his own car to work this week. Working on cars is a frustrating job; nothing in that engine moves out of your way and it always bites skin when you bang into it.
Somewhere along the line I must have neglected to tell him The Rules of Car Repair. I don’t know that knowing them makes the job easier. I’d be happy if being prepared by knowing the real rules would lighten the expletives. They are just words, right? Here are the rules for your reading pleasure.
The Rules of Car Repair
1. You never buy the right part the first time. Sad to say, especially if you are a woman. Plan to make more than one trip to the parts store.
2. Unless you are a professional mechanic, you will not own the right tool to do the job. You will not discover this until you have returned home with the wrong part. You will never buy the right tool on the first visit to the tool shop or parts store. You will not discover this until you return home with the wrong tool. Plan several visits to the parts store.
3. If the job requires replacement of liquid products, you will never purchase enough at the first visit to the parts store. Plan repeated visits to the parts store.
4. The clerks at the parts store know nothing about cars and will not know what part you are talking about. It is, of course, a sales gimmick. Plan extra time to explain the part, show them a picture from your repair manual or the Internet, or give them the correct part number out of your repair manual. Check to make sure part numbers match on the box and on the part while you are still at the part store. Remember it will not fit anyway when you get it back home and attempt to install.
5. The job always takes longer than planned.
6. The part is never removed nor replaced as easily as it shows in the repair manual. Plan more than one effort for success.
7. Most cars are solid enough to cause damage to the skin and flesh when you slip with tools or parts. Make sure cupboard is stocked with soap, bandages, gauze, tape, ibuprofen, and antibiotic ointment.
8. If you do not own a garage to work in, it will always rain or blistering sun when you want to work on the car. If you install a canopy, the wind will arise when you want to work on your car.
9. The project always requires a larger financial investment than originally budgeted for.
10. Professional mechanics can mess it up as badly as you and still charge you professional prices.
11. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
I hate working on cars. I don’t like trusting my cars to be worked on by other people including relatives, strangers, and professional mechanics. Conundrum for me is easily solved as I won’t do the work myself so I have to trust someone else. In the first place I don’t think cars should break if I take good care of it. What do we spend all that money on if it isn’t solid? Oh right, constantly moving parts wear out.
What a feeling of accomplishment when one is successful at an endeavor, especially fixing one’s own wheels. The son should be feeling pretty good about himself right now. He has his wheels back, doesn’t have to ride a smelly public bus, can come and go as he pleases. And he did it all himself, parts out of each paycheck and labor from his own hands.
The son reminded me of both his father and his scout master these last few weeks. His first scoutmaster was able to repair almost every rig he’d ever owned. The scoutmaster was calm, slow to anger, instructive, and had a patient way of showing young men how to discover success for themselves. His intellectual pastor’s demeanor did not reveal his mechanical abilities, but when vehicles broke on scouting road trips, as they inevitably do, his skills were paramount. He shared all that with his scouts.
The son’s father is a little more curmudgeonly, willing to grouse at every opportunity, not realizing the grumping doesn’t make the project go any more easily. Though he spews blue-air-fulls of expletives through nearly every situation he doesn’t give up. He abandons a job only after determining it is unsolvable.
It’s hard learning how to be a man. You see from the elder men in your life how they behave. You hear from the elder women in your life what they love about or would like to change about men. You are told to be yourself and then told what you need to do to change yourself.
Our young men don’t have homesteading opportunities anymore. You can’t claim 640 acres and keep it just by making improvements on it every year as in the past. You can’t build your house from the timber on the land. In some cities you have to have a permit just to trim your own trees and bushes. Young men in America today can barely get jobs even after obtaining college degrees with huge student loans to show for it.
Yet in America there is much work to be done. Our 50-80 year old infrastructure is crumbling, while Congress spends money on war and banks. Water lines installed years ago need updating to meet use needs. Roads made 50 years ago need care to serve the increased use of more people moving more places every day. Electrical needs have changed as well and many overhead wires could still be placed underground. Older homes could be recycled as much needed urban and rural housing, requiring contractors, plumber, electricians.
Yes, all this work requires labor type jobs, but it’s work needing done, and it’s honest work. It will still take college types to plan and engineer and make sure the tools work and the jobs go right. There’s a need for all types. Especially with the changes in technology. Now more than ever we need so many types of workers and so much work to restore American culture of a higher level for our young people.
If you have young men in your life, especially 16 to 30 year olds, encourage them to try all kinds of work. Eventually they will find something they can do, are good at, and like to do. It’s nice to like your work. People grow and change, as well, perhaps a young man starts with a manual labor job, and ends up with a degree in engineering after he grows and experiences life a bit and decides he’s ready for more knowledge. Not every 18 year old is college material. There are as many possibilities as there are individuals.
Encourage your young men to work hard, and long hours, taking more than one job if they have to, while they are young enough and able enough to do so. Teach them to pay their way, to fix or repair what they can, to keep their clothes clean, and to be on time for work. Make sure they know how to take care of themselves even when feeling low, to eat and sleep well, to drink in moderation if at all, to drink enough water, take daily showers, and brush their teeth preferably twice a day.
I am grateful the son I had the privilege of raising has learned these things. Since I’m on my own less traveled road I am glad to have him beginning his own path with a few skills in his toolbox. Because constantly moving parts require maintenance, sometimes break and need fixing, but usually get you where you are going.
Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – lavender baubles dangling from wisteria vines; hand sized cream and pink striped clematis; a white dogwood in front of a house with a white dogwood stained glass window; bright dusky pink dogwood like a grounded flamingo.
Currently Reading – The Rosie Project (2014, fiction) by Graeme Simsion; My Stroke of Insight (2008, science) by Jill Bolte Taylor; Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling (2013, psychology, communications) by Edgar H Schein; Mr Strangelove: A Biography of Peter Sellers (2002, biography) by Ed Sikov. Yes, concurrently.
This week I have been grateful for:
- The son, who came through me.
- A perspective from Jean-Paul Sartre: “Hell is other people”.
- My little wall heaters on a chilly spring day.
- Piles of pink cherry blossom petals like candy-colored snow drifted in city gutters.
- Books. Both kinds, fiction and non-fiction.
- Removing a plant that had died from my living space with the help of the son. Don’t know what I did wrong to kill it, sad to lose it, but once dead it needed to give its soil back to the earth.
- A couple of indoor plants that seem to be thriving for now.
- Free entertainment from my local lending library.
- Every time the car starts at the turn of the key.
- Hearing and reading other people’s stories. We all have challenges in this life, on this planet.
- Ice cold Coca-cola, when I needed something sort of medicinal.
- My local aquatic center, their warm exercise pool, their hot tub, access to private showers, and staff who listens when you report something wrong. Or right.
- My pool time.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch