This is a topic I’ve been meaning to come back to for a while; it seems that I’ve been playing “tag” with the news cycle for a bit, and I really want to step away from that hot mess. (We’re debating the Confederate Battle Flag? Really?… Let’s not get me started.)
So, education–the “hard” way. What do I mean by this? In a phrase, it’s hard-won experience. It’s the education you get from not settling for “I have no idea how to do this,” and switching instead over to “This probably isn’t as hard as all that–let me give it a go.”
Now, I’m certainly not advocating that you try this with anything truly dangerous–if a tree falls on the power line to your house, I very much recommend calling the professionals- -but the number of things that aren’t really all that hard might surprise you. Your “do-it-yourselfishness” can stem from any number of things: You don’t want to pay for a “professional” to come out. You really want to learn what makes a certain thing tick. Anything, really.
How do you go about this, in a safe and sane manner? Depends on the thing, I’d say. If it’s something small and fairly simple, grab a screwdriver and go. As things get bigger, I’d recommend learning a bit about it, first–Youtube is a phenomenal resource, as is your local library. Ask around, see if you’ve got a friend who knows how to do your particular whatever, and see if they’ll talk you through it, or show you how–offer them dinner in exchange (or a beer, depending on the friend–just wait until after the job is done).
One additional recommendation for the first time through: go slowly and methodically. Really get anal-retentive about doing things the “right” way (to the extent that there is one): carefully set aside each screw, nut, and bolt, and once you’ve got more than about five of them, label them with the order they came out. Set the parts aside on a clear, clean, flat surface, that you’re not likely to knock over. Keep distractions to a minimum.
With this simple set of guidelines, I’ve been able to pull off some remarkable “emergency” repairs: replacing the well pump, then replacing the well “foot”; re-wiring several lights and switches; getting recalcitrant lawnmowers running. All sorts of things–there’s really no end to it.
Then, once you’ve got a bit of confidence built up, move on to bigger things–start looking for local classes on whatever topics your whims take you. I recently discovered that a friend-of-a-friend is a blacksmith; he was kind enough to give the friend and I a 5-hour personal “intro” class. I couldn’t shoe a horse now, but I could probably make nails to build something–and if I practiced, and asked around some more, I could probably get good at it.
Where to go to find classes like this? Try your local state university extension. Look online for any clubs or associations relating to your interest. Look for internet forums on the topic–I promise you, they’re out there. Approach with an open mind, and profess your ignorance on a topic, and your desire to learn; I’ve seldom found a group that wouldn’t take you under their wing. (And when I have, there was generally another group nearby, of folks who left the first one…)
Hopefully, by the time my next post rolls around, we’ll be done talking about flags at statehouses, and we’ll be conversing quite a bit more about race. The Supreme Court will have passed its rulings on the ACA and on same-sex marriage, as well; given all of this, I expect that the next post will be “current events” related. Hope you’ll stick around!