In his famous book The Road Less Traveled, author Dr. M. Scott Peck astutely observes that because it’s easier to label one’s self as a mechanically inept owner of “two left thumbs” than to face the challenge involved in solving a problem and confronting our fears of failure, we sadly take this road most traveled blind to the hidden loss in doing so. He writes:
The parking brake was stuck on a patient’s car, and she knew there was something one could do under the dashboard to release it. I lay down on the floor below the front seat…. Once I was comfortable, I took the time to look at the situation. I looked for several minutes. At first all I saw was a confusing jumble of wires and tubes and rods, whose meaning I did not know. But gradually, in no hurry, I was able to focus my sight on the brake apparatus and trace its course. And then it became clear to me that there was a little latch preventing the brake from being released. I slowly studied this latch until it became clear to me that if I were to move it up with my finger… [it] would release the brake. And so I did this. One single motion, one ounce of pressure from a fingertip, and the problem was solved. I was a master mechanic!
People often ask how I learned to be a handyman and, while it is true that I always enjoyed fixing things and it’s clearly in my genes, the real reason is that unraveling the mystery of how to wind a new strap on a tris is the deep secret to happiness in life.
The world works in a perfectly, astonishingly precise, logical, predictable, sublimely sophisticated way.
The ants, the lions, the trees, the stars and planets, clouds, fish, and fruits all participate without jealousy, pride, curiosity, or depression. Nothing interferes with the rhythmic symphony of Olam HaZeh. The only notable exception of course is man. Only we struggle to find comfort and peace and happiness…. Seven billion square pegs in a universe full of round holes. Why is it so hard here? Lions are built to hunt game. Ants are built for digging. Anteaters are built for licking ants out of the tunnels they have built. What are we built for?
This world is a puzzle. Managing relationships, raising happy children, staying healthy, finding meaning and purpose, and of course fixing a tris are all part of the larger puzzle. Using our disproportionally large and gratuitous brains to solve the puzzle is what we are here for. The pain of the “problems” in life is the signal to use the brain and figure it out. And while it’s true that the best solution to a given problem might be to call the electrician, the cost is your own happiness; having missed the opportunity to join another piece marked “fixing broken tris” into the puzzle of life. This is the point Dr. Peck makes in his example with the parking brake.
So the real answer to the question of how I learned all this fixing stuff is by seeing each new job as a temporarily unknown “problem” I am fully equipped to deal with. I will sink my human brain and dexterous hands with opposable thumbs into the meat of this problem and bring it down because that’s what I am built for. And so are you. You too have an abnormally large brain, binocular vision and a wondrous, five-fingered multi-tool on the end of each arm. You CAN fix a tris, or install a stove top, or heal a broken relationship, or apologize to your spouse, or inspire someone with your words because these are everyday problems and you are a MASTER PROBLEM SOLVER! The secret to a happy marriage, fixing a tris and the challenges in between is to know that you already have everything you need to solve these problems, the answer is within your grasp and waiting for you and that almost nothing could be more pleasurable than doing so.