My first introduction to tools took place in Georgia when I was around seven years old. I was at my grandparents house, and my grandfather was cleaning his work station under the house. There was a pile of pieces of wood in all sorts of small shapes and sizes that were leftover from my grandfather’s many projects. He saw me staring at the pile and asked me if I wanted to make something out of it all.
“How would I do that?” I asked him.
Grandaddy picked up a hammer off his table and held it in the air between us. “You use this,” he said. Then, he grabbed a mason jar full of small nails and handed the two things to me. What followed next was a quick tutorial of how to properly hold a nail and use the hammer to drive it into the wood.
To the average adult, it was something they had seen, or done, a thousand times before. To me, it was magic. My seven-year-old little brain started dreaming up all the things I could build with that pile of wood pieces, a mason jar of nails and a big, sturdy hammer. When granddaddy asked me what I was going to make, I told him every seven-year-old girl’s dream, “A castle!”
After he finished chuckling at my enthusiastic answer, Grandaddy set me straight. “Start out a little smaller, darlin’. Michelangelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel the first time he picked up a paint brush.”
My seven-year-old pride was sorely offended. Didn’t my grandaddy know that I was amazing and could do anything I wanted to? Being the somewhat stubborn seven-year-old kid I was often accused of being, I proceeded to grab pieces of wood and nail them together. I was going to make that castle if it was the last thing I did and show my grandaddy I could build a castle if I wanted to. That Michelangelo guy must not have been as determined as I was, that’s all.
Several blocks of wood into my beginning of a castle tower later, my grandfather happened to notice how fast and enthusiasticly I was hammering away. “I’m not sure what you’re building there darlin’, but you better slow down before you accidentally hit yourself with that hammer.”
Do you think I listened? No. Of course not. What seven year old listens to reason?
A few swings of the hammer later, I misjudged my aim, and instead of hitting the nail on the head, I hit the nail on my thumb. What followed after that was a four-letter word that I had learned from who knows where. Needless to say, when my grandmother heard that word come out of my mouth, I had a sore bottom to go along with that sore thumb.
There was a third lesson I learned that day, although it would take me many years to realize it.
Everyone needs tools in their life.
Whether it’s to build a house, or hang a picture on their wall, every other task you have will require some sort of tool. There are no “keys” to success in life — only tools. So, chase your dreams, whether they involve castles or more meager aspirations, but know how to use your tools properly. With proper usage, they can help you build anything you want in life. But, with misuse, it will only lead to frustration and pain, especially if your grandmother is around to catch your four-letter slipups.