Remember that scene in Cast Away when Tom Hanks’ character manages to create fire? The absolute joy and dancing around as he proudly looks at what he created? Well, I did that yesterday. I created fire – both literally and figuratively. I fixed my barbeque.
Backstory. 20+ years ago we bought a multi-thousand-dollar grill. I loved that grill. It’s safe to say that we cooked 90% of our meals on the grill. But over time parts started failing. The outside of the grill still looked brand-new, but the interior not so much. Now to my shame, I should have been keeping up with maintenance on it. I’m really bad at that. Regular tear-downs and deep cleaning, replacing burners, etc… But I didn’t. So one by one the burners started failing and eventually it stopped working altogether.
I really didn’t want to go out and spend gobs of money on an equivalent grill. Besides, as I said previously, it really does look brand-new from the outside. So, I announced to the world that I was going to fix it. And a month went by. And then another. And another. Then winter came and who wants to fix things in the snow? Mrs Troutdog finally got annoyed and went out and bought a small little grill so we could at least continue grilling. But I never really “clicked” with that grill. I constantly burned stuff and it was too small to cook multiple things at a time. Much to Mrs Troutdog’s annoyance, I complained constantly about it.
Every time I walked into the backyard, the big grill sat there mocking me. A constant reminder of a project on my to-do list that never went away. Every night I cooked on the small grill, the unfinished project gnawed away at me.
I don’t know what finally sparked it, but I finally got fed up enough to start the project. It took the better part of a day to get the thing completely torn apart and cleaned. I made an inventory of every new part that had to be ordered. Then came the challenge. The main bracket that held up the burners and gas tubes had completely burned and rusted away. Unfortunately, the grill is old enough that nobody sells that replacement part. Now what?
I managed to find someone who could manufacture that part for me. I sent dimensions and drawings. What I got back was close, but not exactly what I needed. So, I dredged up my ancient high school machine shop knowledge and set to work making the parts I needed. It took about a day of drilling, bending, cutting, and pounding, but I finally had a working part.
It was another day of assembly, multiple trips the hardware store, cursing over missing (or extra) bolts and fasteners, but finally it was back together. I turned the knobs, pushed the ignitor and… voila! FIRE! I MADE FIRE!! It worked. Back to nearly new condition. I grilled a steak that night and it’s hard to describe how pleased I was with myself. I redeemed my manhood. Alpha male.
My point of this long rambling story is not that you need to learn how to fix things. What is important is that you accomplish things. It doesn’t matter if it’s figuring out how to create a complicated Excell macro, or paint a room, or run your first half marathon. The point is figuring out something you haven’t done before, going through the pain of learning, and then finally accomplishing your goal. It’s an amazing positive jolt to your self-confidence. If you can do that thing, what else can you accomplish? Those endorphins to the brain fuel the drive to continue moving forward.
So, this weekend resolve to learn something new, find a project that’s just a bit outside your comfort zone, or go do something you’ve never done before. When you’re done, I guarantee you’ll thank me.