When the Wheels Fall Off

May 26, 2020
Stoic Stoicism Philosophy Zen Marcus Aurelius

When the Wheels Fall Off

My daughter was having a bad day. First she was spooked by a big spider. I’m a bit terrified of them myself. But we dealt with that problem. After overcoming that minor trauma, she decided she wanted to ride her scooter in the driveway. As she was getting her scooter out of the shed, all the while avoiding the cobwebs within, I could hear her start to sob. I look up from the book I was reading and I noticed one of the wheels had fallen off.

I put down my book and crossed the yard to comfort her. I told her it was not a big deal, these things happen and we could fix it. I asked her if she could please help me. I thought if she was focused on helping, then it would take her mind off her bad day, and maybe we could turn it into a good day.

"“Is it hard? ‘Not if you have the right attitudes. Its having the right attitudes thats hard.” - Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

We got the tools out of the garage. First we found the missing bolt in the grass. Then we selected the right bit from the toolbox. Then we laid out all the tools and parts in a neat row on the driveway. I said, “Let’s first take apart the other wheel, to get a sense of how all the parts fit together.” So we took the good wheel apart to confirm the order of the bolts, bushings, and bearings. If you’ll excuse the pun we were “getting our bearings” on the assembly.

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way” - Marcus Aurelius

As I calmly set about repairing the wheel, I noticed that the tears where abating. Now it wasn’t a sad chore in the way of her fun, but an interesting and fun project in it’s own way. “How does this work? What is this thing?” She had questions. This little act of repair became a lesson for those curious enough to see it. For her it was a lesson of how something in the world works. For me it was a lesson about how we should approach life’s problems. Sometimes the wheels fall off.

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.” Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

We deal with this problem by being calm and getting our tools. Being calm and having a well ordered toolbox is critical. What’s in your toolbox? You can do almost anything with screwdriver and the right philosophy.

- Zach Downey

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