My husband decided to go back to college last year. After nearly twenty years in the computer field, he had been laid off since 2008 and his heart simply wasn’t in returning to the field. He set his sights on a career in green energy and enrolled in a local community college this past fall.
It hasn’t been easy, and we have a lot of challenges in front of us as we juggle work, family and school. Nevertheless, he managed a perfect 4.0 in his first semester and is determined to maintain his high grade point average this semester and beyond.
A few days ago, he asked me to listen to a piece he was preparing for his college Speech class. After he had finished, I asked him, “Can I please put this in my blog? It’s perfect!” It summed up the essence of how we both feel about life, and reaffirmed that yes, we are on the same paths in much of what we do.
Dave was kind enough to agree, and without further ado, here it is:
I have two role models: Leonardo Di Vinci and Steve Martin. Leonardo was an inventor, a scientist, and an artist. Steve is a comedian, actor, banjo player, juggler, and internationally recognized art critic. In each case my heroes are people who follow their muse. They were willing listen to their inner voices and tried something new, even if it seemed ridiculous.
This hunger for new knowledge, this desire to improve their lives and skills is why I admire them both and why their example has become one of my core values. To me it means not needing to rely on anyone outside of my family to fix my problems. Of course, it has its limits.
I’m not about to do a home appendectomy but if a pipe freezes, I’ve got it. It came from wanting more than we can afford. And it is about learning how to make do with what we have.
When my wife and I were looking for someone to install a fence around my property and were shocked by the prices, I got a few books from the library and figured out how to build it myself.
The pattern seems to be like this:
- Wife says that she wants a fence
- Research the topic and get a few price quotes from contractors
- Fall to the ground in shock
- Read a dozen books on building fences
- Make a few drawings to develop my idea
- Make my own parts list
- Say “I’ll be damned if I’m going to dig all of the holes by hand!”
- Start on the project
- Dig all of the damned holes by hand
- Make mistakes and yell curses
- Learn a bunch of new skills
- End up with a really nice fence
That same pattern can be used for finishing the basement, building 30 raised beds, laminate floors, electrical, plumbing, etc.
At some point, emboldened by my successes, it became fun. I started looking at my world and asking “is there more I can do? The answer was always yes. I added organic gardening, chickens, aggressive recycling, canning, home brewing, teaching Tai Chi, and baking bread.
Why would someone want to bake their own bread or make beer? What about raising chickens or making jelly? You can find shelves of bread, beer, chickens, and jelly at the store, so why would someone bother? It might taste better if it’s handmade, but it might not. It might be better for you, I can’t say. What it does for me is it connects me to my life.
Instead of watching TV or playing games on my computer, I can make something with my own hands. I can try and fail or succeed on my own. I can stretch my definition of who I am.
Heinlein is quoted as saying, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
Which reminds me, this summer we are thinking about getting a bee hive.
Thank you Dave, for reminding me of both of our core values. Keep up the good work, I am so proud of you!
My husband and I share many core values. This is especially important to us when raising our daughter. As I said in a previous post, Promoting Versatility and Adaptability it is more than just about making sure she is self-reliant, it is about imbuing her with the belief that she can do anything she sets her mind to. The self-confidence that follows self-reliance, that springs from the success of each new task accomplished, will build and build.
It is not enough for us to simply tell her, “You can do anything you dream of.” Instead, we lead by example. Don’t know how to build a fence? That’s okay, it’s something you can learn. And that is how it goes.
Think about your family – what totally different task or activity can you learn this week? How can you influence your children? How can you involve them in the process? How can they share in the success of making it happen?
And email me if you come up with an interesting example. I’d love to hear it!