Blogpost

I’m Broken (The Only Mechanic Is Me)

meaningMy first car was a 1977 Chevy Nova!  I inherited it from my great aunt and it was the perfect first car.  It had holes in the floor boards where you could actually see the road below you.  It had an 8 Track tape player in it that never really worked.  It was pale blue and covered with rust spots, as you can tell from the description, I loved it!  There were plenty of reasons to love it that had nothing to do with how looked or how it ran.  And now looking back on it, I understand even better that it was the perfect first car exactly because it was a piece of junk.  At no point did I ever have to worry about messing it up.  I learned how to change the oil, replace the bulbs and change tires on that car.  At no point did I think, “If I mess this up, I’m screwed!”

Fast forward to the present day and I don’t even change my own oil anymore.  Cars have become computers and more complicated, therefore the idea of doing my own maintenance while possible is much easier to outsource.  There are so many things like that today.  Complexity of many systems within our world have changed us from capable amateur mechanics to people in the waiting room in anticipation of someone else fixing our problem.

While this may be helpful or even necessary with many of our possessions, it seems to have become pervasive to the point of a cultural norm.  Day care, personal trainers, landscapers, etc. are all examples of outsourcing things that used to be done by the amateur ‘owner’.  While these services can be helpful and possibly ‘necessary’ in a modern context, there is one thing that we can never turn the complete management over to someone else: your mind.

The best therapist in the land can be employed for multiple hours each day and still, it is on the individual to get their hands dirty and do the work.  No one can change you without your conscious or unconscious consent.  Recognizing this fact, I am amazed at how many brain owners keep waiting for the world or their life to make them happy.  That is like expecting your neighborhood to take care of your lawn without ever communicating with them about it.  And even if you did make that request, I’m sure that you’d get some raised eyebrows or questions like “why is that my responsibility?”  So in this area, we need to realize that that amateur mechanic ethos is absolutely necessary.  Help is not only desirable in most cases, it is necessary but it is on each and every one of us to maintain, diagnose or even overhaul our mind at times.  With the amount of anxiety, depression and other mental concerns that seem to affect most of the population, it is time for all of us to recognize that we are all broken in at least a small way but we are also the mechanic.  Learning about yourself, your habits, fears, triggers and so many other components of your mindset is no longer an option.  Developing the tools to navigate this complex world is not only your job, it’s integral to your survival.  So remember, you’re broken (but so is everyone else) and you’re the mechanic.

Get your hands dirty!

Pete

self-reliance

Prove It!

Geometry was probably one of the easiest classes for me in high school.  Despite its relative ease, I had trouble staying engaged with it.  I found it tedious to give all of the reasons why something was true.  It was usually pretty obvious whether a problem was going to withstand the scrutiny of the different theorems that we were learning at the time.  So it seemed like a relative waste to my teenage self to write out all of the steps in proving or disproving a problem.  Especially when the answers (to the odd problems usually) were in the back of the book.

In our every day lives, there aren’t a lot of ‘proofs’ to be done.  Very few things are black and white.  So regardless of how SURE you are of your argument, there’s someone out there with the exact same information screaming the opposite (just think of our present political situation).  So if we have nothing to prove, maybe the aim should be to improve.

Although there are few cold hard truths that we encounter daily, we do have a sense of who we are personally and what it is that we want for ourselves.  So recognize the fact that you have nothing to prove.  Even if you were to prove something, the circumstances of tomorrow may wipe away the thing that your proved today.  However, each day we have the ability to improve.  In small and subtle ways, it is possible for you to see progress in yourself, your life and your circumstances.  Almost nothing about you is going to stand the test of time like Pythagoras’ Theorem.  That does not mean that your life is meaningless.  You are a sand castle that can be improved and enjoyed for the time that it exists.  Get digging and sculpting because when the tide comes in, you’ll wish that you had!

Have a great day!

Pete

 

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It Is What It Is (Or It Isn’t)

fingerOn Saturday at the park, my daughter cut her finger.  Nothing that required stitches but enough that pressure alone wasn’t stopping the bleeding.  I looked through the van for a band aid but came up empty.  So I took a napkin and some duct tape to fix up the problem.  “Dad, that’s not a band aid.”  She was right.  It wasn’t.  That didn’t matter to me and once it worked it didn’t matter to her either.  At a certain point, results are what we’re really after.  When you don’t have what you need, use what you have.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing things like that.  Finding a solution for a problem with limited or unorthodox resources.  Perhaps I watched too many episodes of McGyver when I was a kid.  Or perhaps I care too little about form and put an overemphasis on function.  Regardless of the why, I have an affinity toward multidimensional thinking and it scares me.

I’m not scared because I do it but rather because so many young people that I know do not.   It is not particularly their fault.  Our society has curved off so many of the jagged edges that it is almost impossible to develop resourcefulness organically.  We can blame it on the internet, the government or any other scapegoat that is popular today but that’s the heart of the same one dimensional thinking that is the root of this problem.  Blaming a lack of resources or poor circumstances for our failure won’t get us anywhere but stuck.  People are far too quick to figure out who to hold accountable and very few people are stepping up asking to be responsible.

In essence that is where this blog started, the ability to respond to a problem with a solution that was irregular.  A napkin is a napkin, until it’s a band aid.  A problem is a problem until it is an opportunity.  Each of us has the opportunity to look at our own lives and see where we can push the limits of what is expected.  You have unique resources available to you.  How can you use them to make the world of those around you a little better?  What problem is out there for you to create a unique solution for?  You are who you’ve always been until you’re not.

Go out and do something great today!

Pete

 

 

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Picnic Baskets and Swiss Army Knives

SwissArmyKnifeEvery year I hike part of the Appalachian Trail with my brother.  It is one of my favorite events of the year.  First, it is time spent with one of my best friends.  Second, it is enjoyable to forget about comfort for two days and walk into the woods with only the supplies we can carry.  It’s not army survival training by any stretch but it’s not a picnic either.  We never bring a picnic basket but we always bring a Swiss Army Knife.  The tools that you pack on any adventure say a lot about what you are expecting, what you can handle and whether or not you’ll survive.

picnicbasketOne of my greatest concerns is the youth of today are under-prepared to deal with the challenges they will face.  I fear that in many respects kids today are walking into the woods with picnic baskets.  They are anticipating that everything will continue to be easy.  The tests of life will be multiple choice.  If they need it, they’ll get extra time to complete their work.  Mommy or daddy will always be available to fix their problems.  Unfortunately this picnic basket life that they are anticipating doesn’t exist.  What happens when they find out that life is not always a picnic?

My hope is that we never get to that point.  I want the young people that I have contact with to leave the basket at home and take the Swiss Army Knife.  Start equipping themselves with any and every tool that they can to survive effectively in the woods of life.

The reason that I use the Swiss Army Knife in this metaphor is its adaptability to many situations.  The world is changing at an increasingly rapid pace.  Yet many young people seem to have trouble keeping up with the status quo.  The expectation that tomorrow will be like yesterday is foolish. It will leave us at least two steps behind where we need to be.

Whether you realize it or not, you’re in the woods. Did you pack well?  If not, maybe now you should look around for supplies.