By Paul Comfort
I was raised by my mother and father. My dad was a Pastor so most of the lessons I learned from him growing up were not really practical in nature. My dad taught me how to be an effective speaker and writer, how to study, how to lead people and that life is a mission to be lived passionately toward the end goal of helping people improve their lives both here and in the afterlife. While he showed me how to change my car’s oil and a few other practical lessons about cleaning things well and weeding the garden etc… I never really learned to be “handy” around the house. So when I bought our first house upon getting married and it was over fifty years old, I had a lot to learn.
It seemed that keeping our house in good repair and our yard and cars maintained was a full time job in itself. But early on I began to watch the repairmen who I hired to fix things around the house and I learned from observing them how to do many repairs myself. I would often ask them if they minded if I watched and if they could show me some of what they were doing and they almost never objected. Many took time to explain to me the intricacies of details they had learned the hard way and I became the beneficiary of their learning. I also picked up a lot from watching my father – in –law, who was very practical around the house and garage and would often end up “helping” me fix things that were broken.
I learned how to replace the heating elements in our old furnace, how to do basic plumbing under the sink and replace pipes, how to replace shingles and siding, how to tape/paint walls and put in insulation, how to fix a broken dryer or lawnmower. I watched and learned how to replace a distributer cap under the hood, how to change spark plugs, replace the hoses and belts of a car, how to replace tires on the rim and more. From watching the pros I became a decent amateur and saved a lot of money when I could do basic repairs around the house and garage myself.
I also learned to enjoy performing and completing practical tasks. I loved the feeling of looking back at my freshly mowed lawn and feeling a sense of accomplishment. I learned to take pride in my work and felt connected to my house, yard and autos in an integral way as I poured twelve years of blood, sweat and tears into maintaining and improving that house and cars on Miller Street.
I learned that from watching the pros you can pick up the basics and then do the work yourself. I found that hands-on practical knowledge is sometimes better than book learning and doing it yourself gives you a sense of pride and ownership that you can never get from just paying someone else to do it for you. Finally, I learned that you can become whatever you need to be, that can teach yourself to be good at things that aren’t second nature and not to be afraid to get your hands dirty in the process.
(c) Copyright 2017 by Paul Comfort, All rights reserved