Zen and DIY


One of the most interesting (and, I admit, frustrating) things about building your own house and creating your own infrastructure/environment is that just about everything you do, you are doing it for the first and likely the last time.  Hopefully the last time! 

Well, in my case, I probably built the equivalent of two and half houses since I had to do it the ‘first time’ several times before being able to continue.  And that is the way it is…………let me explain….

Sal and were intending on putting up the siding.  We weren’t sure how to go about it but we started anyway.  After a few hours H dropped by to say hello and stare long and hard at our efforts.

“Siding, eh?  Ever done that before?”

“No.  Never.  Why?  We doin’ it wrong?”

“Well, ’round here, most folks leave a larger space between each board and then cover that space up with a thinner piece they refer to as a batten.  You don’t have a big enough space.  No place for expansion.  Your siding might get tight and pinch.  Maybe break.  Want me to show you what I mean?”

And so after that little lesson, we spent the next hour removing what we had first done and fixing it.  Then – doing it for the second time – we did it ‘right’ for the first time.  And – as we got better at it – we proceeded to work our way around the house improving as we went so that the last wall was much better looking and went up faster than the first one.  If only it was always that easy.  Usually there are several ‘false starts’.

Another friend was helping me one day with a motor problem.  He’s a whiz at motor problems.  We tried several things with no luck.  “The trouble with doin’ stuff out here is that it always seems like it is the first time.  There’s a reason for that – it usually is.  Damn!”

“But you’ve been here for years.  You can seemingly do anything.  I just assumed that this would be stroll down memory lane for you.  No?”

“Well, it is.  Like I told you.  I been in this place a lot of times.  I am very familiar with doin’ it for the first time.  Still, it is the first time almost every time!  Like the opposite of déja vu, ya know?”

So, therein lies the lesson.  There are way too many things that need to be done to ever get competent at any one of them.  It’s as simple as that.  The only chance you have is to get comfortable tackling things ‘the first time’.  There will plenty of ‘first times’.  Get used to it.

Be comfortable, butterfly, with being uncomfortable…….

1 thought on “Zen and DIY

  1. Floats like a butterfly but stings like a bee. As you know there are many ways to skin a cat. Making mistakes has become de rigueur as no one likes a know it all.


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