Man carving wooden spoon
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Missed Opportunities To Learn New Skills

I recently watched a few YouTube videos where a young man, who wants to get into forging, built himself a forge and an anvil. The forge was made from just a cast-iron camping skillet, a folding metal chair, some plumbing pipe, and a blowdryer. The anvil was made from plywood, pine 4×4’s, railroad ties, and a railroad plate. His willingness to build a forge and anvil himself, from largely recycled materials, got me thinking about why this man’s actions aren’t more common.

It seems to me that, in the past, money was a more cherished resource than it is today. Most folks didn’t spend it willy-nilly on things they wanted. Instead, they looked for other ways to provide what they needed or wanted. This involved being creative and looking for solutions in unexpected places, as well as building and making things yourself. This way of thinking seems to be greatly diminished in our present society. In my experience, the majority of people would rather buy what they want or need instead of making it themselves. Therefore missing out on opportunities to acquire new skills and experiences.

A common example is car repair. In a recent conversation in a group on Disqus I learned that most of the men in the group don’t even know how to change a flat tire. Instead, they rely on roadside assistance to do it for them. This robs them of a valuable skill that could make all the difference at a future date when they cannot access roadside assistance and there is no one there to change it for them. In general, doing vehicle repairs yourself, even just the simple ones, will help to familiarize you with how your vehicle functions as well as increase your repair skills and confidence. This can be a real benefit as repairs are certain to be needed in the future and performing them yourself is almost always less expensive than going to a mechanic. Therefore, the more you know about how your vehicle works, the better.

People use picture frames all over their homes to help decorate and create the desired atmosphere. The vast majority of people purchase their picture frames from a store, but why not try building your own instead? All it takes to build a basic frame is a handsaw, miter box, wood, a measuring tool, wood glue, and your chosen method of securing the corners. It might take a bit of practice to get things the way you want, but that is just a part of building skills and growing as a person. Building something for yourself not only fulfills a need or a want, but it also fills you with a sense of accomplishment that will help you feel better about yourself.

Once, I needed to anchor my toddler’s dresser to the floor because he would try to climb it to get to the uppermost drawers. I had no “L” brackets around so I ended up drilling some holes into an old curtain rod holder. Thus effectively making an “L” bracket that allowed me to use screws to secure the dresser in place. There will be no dresser tipping over onto my toddler. This story is an example of thinking outside the box in order to solve a problem. Thinking this way is learned by building, repairing, and just doing.

Perhaps time is an issue for you and that is why you do not pursue making or repairing things for yourself. If that is so, then I ask what fills your life to the extent you have no time for self-reliance and building new skills? I have four kids and I enjoy spending time with them all. Therefore I try to incorporate them into the repairs I have to make around the home. Not only does this enable me to spend time with my kids but it also helps to teach them self-reliance and proper care for their possessions. This can be far more meaningful than sitting on a couch and watching a movie with them. Though, there is nothing inherently wrong with doing that, so long as it is in moderation.

The next time you have a possession that needs mending, take a serious look at fixing it yourself. Also consider building that next thingamabob you want to buy. Doing either of these things can help you and your family in more ways than you realize. Thank you for giving this post a read and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, I wish you the best.

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