Life can be demanding, we all know this and have experienced overwhelming demands from time to time. But for every little bit of knowledge that we gather, those demands get smaller. Every mountain seems tall for someone who has never climbed, every motorcycle seems fast to someone who has never raced, and every task seems daunting to someone who has never gotten their hands dirty.
So, it is my belief that experience trumps all. The more general experience someone has, the more confident they will become because, well, they’ve experienced it (or something like it) and therefore they know they can accomplish the task. So what am I getting at here? Experiences. I’ve created a list of one dozen common experiences that everyone should have. Some may save a life, while others may simply make your life a bit more fun. Knowledge is fun. Knowledge can be powerful. But experiencing things is different. Experiences are the only things that can give you, EXPERIENCE!
One Dozen Experiences You Should Have
Chickens. Experience owning chickens. Did you know that chickens produce eggs with or without a rooster? You might be surprised by this, or surprised by how many people don’t know it. Either way, they do. They are also remarkably easy to care for and they drastically minimize insects. If allowed to roam your yard, you will begin to notice that there are fewer mosquitos, flees, gnats, etc. I’m not exaggerating either; my wife and I can sit in our backyard and enjoy the evening, sometimes without bug spray at all. They also fertilize the grass, are entertaining to watch, and…produce eggs! Get some chickens!
Lefty-loosy righty-tighty! Learn some basic mechanic skills. If you turn it to the left, you loosen it, turn to the right, you tighten it. I am often amazed by some people’s lack of basic mechanical skill. When speaking of it, they usually differ to the old excuse that their mind just doesn’t work that way. While of course, some are more mechanically inclined than others, it seems to be more often than not that they simply don’t want to inconvenience themselves with actually trying to figure something out. Do yourself a favor, and FIGURE A FEW THINGS OUT! I’m not suggesting that you build a racing engine for your family minivan as a first project, but how about the garbage disposal, or the toilet float valve that won’t stop leaking? These things are easier than you might think, and there will be plenty of information on how to do it just a Google search away. I like to figure out how much it would cost to pay for it with a professional, and then give the money saved to myself to spend on…whatever!
Learn to drive a stick shift! This is a great one. Everyone should know how to drive a manual shift transmission. My daughter is driving age right now, and she has learned to drive a manual shift, but I’m taking it one step further; whenever the time comes, unless she is buying it all on her own, her first car will be a standard shift. Flat out, I’m not helping out with anything unless it is a standard shift. It is my theory that if her first car is a standard, she will always know how to do it. Every car afterward can be whatever she wants, but the first one will be a standard shift. Why is this skill important? Of course people make it through life all the time never learning how to drive a stick shift, but what you gain through this skill is more than just the specific experience. Let me explain; manual shift transmissions are more fuel-efficient than typical automatic transmissions. New technology is changing this a bit, but for anything used, this is almost a guarantee. Also, when buying a used car, stick shift cars can be had at a lower price because fewer people want a stick shift, and manual transmissions are less likely to have problems than automatics. A typical rebuild of an automatic transmission is between $2-$3,000 and will usually need to happen before the car hits 200,000 miles. A manual transmission will usually go well beyond 200,000 miles if treated right, and only need a clutch replacement, not a full rebuild.
Find north, south, east, and west. And learn to use a map! Crazy to think, but there is an entire generation of ADULTS who have never needed to use a map (google maps or other apps do not count). These people are old enough to vote! Whenever you force your mind to see a city grid as a two-dimensional map, you start to learn the little shortcuts and hidden gems of your city. Also, once you have your bearings as to which way is north, or east, it’s kind of hard to loose. Someday, you may find yourself without a gps, and simply knowing witch way is north just so that you are not walking in circles, could save your life…or at least save you some time and frustration.
Speaking of survival, learn to build a fire. Fire is freakin’ awesome, and getting one going with just one little match is extremely fulfilling. Fires produce heat, consume trash, cook food, and are just enjoyable to sit around. Learn to take the time to set up your starter fuel (paper, twigs, whatever), kindling, and larger materials so that you have the ability to easily start a fire, and feed it up to the point that it is self sustaining and will consume anything you put in it, crack open a beer and enjoy an evening by a cozy fire.
Did someone mention beer? That’s right; learn how to make drinkable alcohol! It’s easier than you think. Sure, there are starter kits you can get, or advanced kits that produce some fine quality ales, but what I’m talking about is even more simple. Alcohol is produced when yeast consumes the sugars in a liquid mixture. Yeah, that’s it. Sure, Yuengling is a great American Lager, but it doesn’t need to be that complex. If you take clean water in a bucket, add sugar to it and cover it up so that it can breathe but bugs can’t get to it, and let it sit, yeasts will eventually get to it and begin eating the sugars. This creates alcohol. Once it is ripe, and smelling like an alcoholic beverage, you have a rudimentary beer. Sure, I’d recommend following a better recipe than this, but it really is just that simple. Alcohol will always be a valuable commodity. You can sell it, distill it for whiskey, use it as fuel in combustion engines, or simply drink it. If the water isn’t clean, you can make it safe to drink by turning it into a low alcohol beer. The alcohol will kill harmful bacteria, making it consumable.
Learn the basics of an electrical circuit. Yep, electricity runs all our gadgets, so it would be smart to learn at least a little bit about it. There are plenty of toys designed to encourage children to create electrical circuits, but you are no child. My suggestion would be to create something useful to you. Maybe your shed needs a light, or you’ve always wanted to install a solar panel charging system that charges a 12 volt car battery, that in turn runs L.E.D. light strips that light up your backyard. Whatever type of project you choose, understanding how the electricity flows, how your switches make and break the circuit, and how the lights/loads use the energy, is a fantastic experience. It’s even good to get shocked a few times, let’s you know you’re alive!
Change a flat tire. Seriously, change a flat tire...or just change a tire that still has air in it. It’s for sure a valuable experience. Just dig out your owners manual, locate where your tools and spare tire is, and get down to business. The last time I had to do this, I was absolutely delighted to have my then 14 year old daughter with me. I said, “Well, I’ve been meaning to do this in our driveway, but lucky for you, you get to do it for real!” I then proceeded to walk her through the steps and she alone changed the tire. If my foo-foo 14 year old daughter could do it, so can you. Don’t call a stinking tow truck, get your ass out of the car and start wrenching.
Take a typing class and learn how to properly stroke those keys. I’ve probably literally said it over 100 times, the most useful class I have ever taken was Typing 1, and then the next year Typing 2. Nowadays it may be difficult to find a typing class, and I’ll admit that it’s a little far fetched for me to recommend it, but I can’t stress enough that this is a very useful skill to have. Hell, our schools no longer even teach “cursive” writing. Nearly every word written in this modern world is done so on a keyboard of some sort. Learn this tool, it is what we use for the written language.
Sharpen your knives. Sounds simple, and it is simple, but again it is amazing how few people actually do it, or even know how it is done. So figure it out, get a sharpening stone, read the directions on the back, watch a YouTube video, whatever it takes. Learning to sharpen a knife can give you intimate knowledge on how to actually use a knife. A knife is intended to cut, not shear. Therefore, when cutting with a knife, don’t just press the knife into something, pull it back and forth to allow the blade to slice through whatever you are cutting, otherwise, you’ll just smush it.
Figure out how to cook. Really, figure it out. Follow what the recipe says, don’t just see the steps as suggestions. If it says to wait 10 minutes, then do that. Once you have mastered the art of following cooking instructions, apply similar steps to creating something of your own. I would recommend biscuits first. If you can make a good biscuit, those skills will carry over to other things, things like dumplings!
Cardio Pulmonary Respiration. CPR. Learn how to save a life. You will hopefully never need it, but to be in a situation where you need it and don’t know it would be devastating. Especially if you are a parent. How great would it be to save a life, or at least do all you can, and how shitty would it be to standby…helpless?
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!