Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Making Mistakes

I suspect growing up without a lot of money is one reason I have gotten good at doing a lot of different things. But, that is not the focus of this posting, though it does have some relevance, as I will attempt to explain.

When I think back on all of the mistakes I have made working on cars, it is a pretty long, and very daunting list. Some would say paying $30 for a car that you have to tow home so you can start working on it was a mistake. But, that is not what I would consider a mistake. Because it gave me the chance to learn auto-mechanics, and also gave me the experience needed to restore a 1970 MGB, a 1966 Jaguar 3.8S, and a 1969 Jaguar XKE, and to maintain our BMW’s.

This post’s focus is on the mistakes I made which taught me the things not to do. Which makes me better at doing things today.

Let’s take pliers for instance. When you start working on things you find that pliers are a sort of universal tool - great for gripping stuff. OK, they don’t grip very well, and they tear things up pretty readily, but initially they are the perfect tool. Until you tear up a tight nut so badly that now a wrench will no longer work, and the pliers are not getting it loose. This is an excellent example of the kind of mistakes I had the chance to make at a young age. Or maybe there was the time I was wiring up a transformer and accidently touched the terminals with the back of my finger. I was eight at the time, and the scar from that arc is still visible.

Sometimes I will be helping someone and it just hits me - the reason I am good at so many things is because I have made so many mistakes. Each mistake teaches another lesson, and, I like to think, gives me a better chance of applying that lesson to a number of areas.

Something else I have noticed - it seems like any more, when I do something new, wow, it just works better than I ever would have imagined. I suppose because of all those mistakes.

We are never too old to make more mistakes, or to learn from the mistakes we make. If we are to grow, we have to get out there and do things - preferably new things. Making new mistakes. And, if we have children, while it is so very hard to do, we have to let them make their own mistakes, and be there to help them - after they make their mistakes.

I suspect those who have made the most mistakes are the ones with the most options for finding hobbies/occupations/avocations that will be fulfilling and provide the satisfaction that is an integral part of being happy when they retire. And they will be able to fix faucets, broken furniture, and their own cars, making their retirement a lot more affordable.

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