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Never Force It

Speaking of fixing things, check out his article by Kyle Wiens:

I was always in awe of what my grandfather could do. As I was growing up, when a faucet needed fixing or we needed a lighting fixture installed, it was my grandfather who did it. He brought his toolbox with him every time he came over. I remember being enthralled by his workshop, with his oddly large bandsaw and drawers of strange woodworking tools.

Like the tools and the wood that he worked, Grandfather was rough-hewn. He could be hard and gruff. As a child, his demeanor drove me to tears more than once. When I would accidentally interfere with his work, he would grunt, “Get out of my road.” He wasn’t offended by my presence, he just needed to get past me to get things done. Finishing the job was primary. All his intellectual effort went into finding the most efficient way to accomplish the task. Slight emotional casualties along the way were acceptable. It took me years to understand that.

But he was quietly affectionate in his own way. He never spoke praise, but you could see it in his eyes. I remember seeing that look on his face when I became an Eagle Scout, just as he had been so many years before. It was the first time I knew that Grandfather was proud of me.

…When I left for college, Grandpa gave me a hug and a toolbox. I was the only one in the dorms with tools, and I was constantly fixing things for people. (We also used them for more nefarious purposes, swapping bathroom signs and locking the resident advisor out of his room.) Those were the first tools that were truly my own. They were not the last.

“Never force it.” That was Grandpa’s advice for tinkering, and it’s good advice for life. Work hard, but let things come. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try another way.

Painting by Richard Diebenkorn.

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