MY EFFORTS TO REPLACE A SET OF STEPS. Salvataier’s essay about building things with his brother brought back memories. There came a summer when my mother decided that my brother Elmer and I could and should replace some steps to a porch whose wood was giving way. We were overmatched, but with the advice of a kind neighbor, Mr Mosher, we eventually got it done. Mr. Mosher’s key advice was that if we built the steps according to our plan, they would fall down.
Elmer and I were frustrated every step of the way but perhaps if I had had access to the essay that John Salvatier wrote in 2017, it would have been easier. Not just the advice about screws and wood angles. The life advice. Salvatier describes how you feel when you are struggling with learning how to do something:
“Then you got more practice and then you told yourself ‘man, it was so simple all along, I don’t know why I had so much trouble’. We run into a fundamental property of the universe and mistake it for a personal failing.”