Ownership and Mastery

 

The video below is of my 14-year-old grandson. For the last several weekends, he and I have worked together to turn a pile of miscellaneous detached parts into a running go-kart. This is the moment we first fired it up and let it rip.

I suggested to him a few months ago that we do this project, and I confess I was completely riddled with ulterior motives. Besides merely wanting to hang out with him, I wanted him to gain experience working with hand tools. I wanted him to feel the exhilaration of working on something for an extended period of time, needing to learn entirely new concepts to succeed, and then to have the exhilaration of success after working on something hard. I wanted him to learn a little bit about mechanics. And I wanted to amplify his already noticeable attraction to embodied work. I wanted to stoke the fire of excitement and deep satisfaction that emerges when, having applied newly acquired knowledge, things finally begin to work as you originally imagined. That first time he pressed on the throttle and the torque converter really engaged and started turning the rear axle…well…it was a magical moment for both of us.

But something else happened along the way that came as a bit of a surprise. As the project progressed, my grandson came to his own realization that, since he was developing an intimate familiarity with the way the go-kart actually worked, he would not be at the mercy of anyone else to maintain it.

Two things happened during the first trial run that you see in the video above. The throttle cable shook loose, and we discovered there were real adjustments needed to the brakes. He came by earlier today and made the necessary fixes and adjustments, and he tested them out entirely on his own.

This insight about the liberating benefits of his newly acquired self-sufficiency kept surfacing in our conversation. The reduced dependence that would come from having acquired his own knowledge and skills was the thing he kept bringing up.

What he ended up discovering was a taste of the personal freedom – the liberating agency – that comes from acquiring the kind of competence which produces technical mastery over one of his own possessions. Thus, by the end, he was most enamored with how his new skills and knowledge amplified his own independence.

And I love that. I hope he never forgets it. My own grandfather would be proud.

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There are 13 comments.

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  1. EODmom Coolidge
    EODmom
    @EODmom

    Freedom! He’s learned that he can teach himself almost anything he wants to know. And he knows his grandpa is a trusted ally. More steps to leaving home as a capable self directed adult. Well done grandpa. Let’s hear it for cul de sacs. And boy does he have long legs. Lucky grandpa. 

    • #1
  2. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Young men need fathers, uncles, grandpas, neighbors, mentors who are willing and able to do what the two of you are doing. 

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    What a gift you’ve given him! Mastery, independence, self-reliance–many wonderful things!

    • #3
  4. RebeccaCoffey Thatcher
    RebeccaCoffey
    @RebeccaCoffey

    I am super impressed.  How wonderful!

    • #4
  5. Michael Henry Member
    Michael Henry
    @MichaelHenry

    Cool!

    • #5
  6. Samuel Block Staff
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Lucky grandson. Although I guess going forward luck will have less to do with it. 

    Great post. 

    • #6
  7. TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs'. Coolidge
    TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs'.
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Elsewhere Ricos were marveling at the way kids don’t seek drivers licenses as early or avidly as they used to. 

    I suspect this will not be the case here. 

    • #7
  8. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    I enjoyed Yer post, Lowery.

    • #8
  9. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    That would have been a peak experience of my early life; you done good.

    • #9
  10. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Torque converter?  I thought those still used a centrifugal clutch.

    That is a definite safety feature, though, compared to the jet-powered variety.

     

    • #10
  11. Keith Lowery Coolidge
    Keith Lowery
    @keithlowery

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Torque converter? I thought those still used a centrifugal clutch.

    That is a definite safety feature, though, compared to the jet-powered variety.

     

    Here’s what we bought: https://www.gopowersports.com/30-series-gopowersports-torque-converter-kit/

    I have seen the crazy rocket man before – he’s fantastic.

    • #11
  12. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Keith Lowery (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Torque converter? I thought those still used a centrifugal clutch.

    That is a definite safety feature, though, compared to the jet-powered variety.

     

    Here’s what we bought: https://www.gopowersports.com/30-series-gopowersports-torque-converter-kit/

    I have seen the crazy rocket man before – he’s fantastic.

    That’s still a centrifugal clutch by the looks of it, the part that attaches to the engine.  The rest of it appears to be for speed reduction.  Which would increase torque also, but not like the torque converter for a car’s automatic transmission which uses fluid.

    • #12
  13. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    such a good idea. You learn by doing. 

    • #13
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