I am a master at the power screw driver.
This is actually a brand new skill that I recently discovered. Before last Saturday night, I had never before picked up that wonderful tool, and I now realize what I have been missing all this time.
We were in the process of building a bookcase for my sister, Sara, and my grandpa came over to oversee the project.
It became a family affair with everyone participating at some point or another. Sara and I were Grandpa's helpers, although sometimes I think we were probably more of a hindrance than a help.
First off, Grandpa showed us how to read the instructions, which was one of the trickiest parts on this job.
And as we started putting wooden pegs into holes and assembling the shelves, I came to a very important realization.
This whole experience was a life lesson.
I thought back through the rest of my life and all the lessons I had learned and realized that most of them didn't have the weight of a "life lesson" when I first learned them.
Back then, it was just something that was said in passing from a parent or grandparent or an activity to keep small, mischievous hands busy in the garden learning to distinguish weeds from flowers, in the kitchen learning that cookies always taste best right out of the oven with a tall glass of milk, or even in the living room learning to build a bookcase.
It seems to be that only in retrospect do we realize the times when life lessons were being passed down from our grandparents and parents.
But when we were building the bookcase, I knew I was in the process of learning something important.
I learned it was important to thoroughly read the directions and follow them to a T, but not to follow them blindly. Directions can be wrong.
I also learned that even though the box states the project is quick and easy to assemble, that nine times out of 10 the box is lying.
Grandpa taught us how to do many of the little intricacies of carpentry work, but the most important was how to go about fixing something you messed up.
We had gotten almost all the way to the end of our project when we realized we had made a mistake at the beginning.
Not a huge mistake but an annoying one.
I watched Grandpa as he thought about how to solve the problem. He looked at the plans and then looked at the piece long and hard.
When he thought he had a solution we went to work.
But our solution, however well thought out, did not work in reality.
That is when I learned another important lesson. If you can't fix it, move on.
The piece was still beautiful and it wasn't lopsided. Our mistake was just an annoying one, but after we spent a good deal of time trying to fix it, we learned that sometimes it's best just to leave it be.
I learned a lot of things from Grandpa in the course of completing our project. But I think what stuck with me the most are the things all builders, woodworkers and carpenters think about and all novices must learn quickly.
Watch your fingers and don't strip the screws.
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