You are enjoying this too much

We just completed our first year at the Sustainability Workshop and it was amazing. So what do you do the first week after the school year is over? The highlight of this week for me was the hours I spent over the past few days working on Michael’s car – we talked about the year, shared some ideas about next year, but mostly we just wrestled bolts out of his engine while changing the oil pan. The oil pan on his 2001 Jetta needed to be replaced for some time and while we had great intentions, we were just not able to get to it during the last month of school. And while replacing an oil pan should be very straight forward, like many things in life, it just wasn’t.

There are two infamous bolts that we came upon that made the job really interesting (google Jetta oil pan replacement – there has been lots of blood spilled complaining about them, not much about how to deal with them). I wish I could say that I was immune to frustration but while fighting these bolts, it snuck in. Frustration is a fascinating feeling. When I feel it, it’s usually because I think I’m doing something wrong – that I’m doing something dumb – that I am dumb. Even after 42 years, I can’t seem to steer clear of that feeling. At this point I would like to say something smart about how this parallels teaching and learning but it’s the end of the school year and I’ve got nothing. I’ll count on you to come up with your own inspirational insight – please share it with me when you do.

Once we learned there is a special tool you can buy to get these nefarious bolts to comply, I felt much better. We didn’t know the tool existed while taking the bolts out, so we didn’t think we had any other options. We were actually able to get those bad bolts out without the tool. And with this new knowledge, the feeling of frustration turned to satisfaction. We had accomplished something challenging.  Seeing a picture of the tool after we had the pan off inspired us to make our own version of it. While saving $29.99 plus shipping is satisfying for its own reasons, there is something more satisfying about creating a tool – especially one that works.

This morning, after cleaning the surfaces meticulously, we applied silicone gasket maker and carefully installed the new oil pan. When we got to the two infamous bolts, I grabbed our homemade tool and put it to the test. I wish I could say the bolts just fell into place – well, one did. The second still resisted but eventually it complied. As I was putting that last bolt in, I realized even though we got them out without the tool, we would have never got them back in without it.

As we crawled from under the car, covered in dirty oil and car gunk, I must have been smiling with satisfaction. Michael simply stated, “You are enjoying this too much.” That basically sums up my year.