Installing a Gate

child gateIn my last post, I talked about how knowledge motivated me to stop my boss from pushing an agenda that obscured the truth.  This came in the form of anger.  But the motivation that comes from a desire to understand does not have to only show up that way.

A child’s curiousity, a scientist’s discipline, someone’s fear of what is down a dark alley.  All these things come from a lack of knowledge and the desire to rectify that.  You could say that all actions stem from our desire to understand.  But I think that is a little too broad of a statement to have much practical value.

There are times when your motivation comes from understanding a situation instead of just the most obvious of reasons.  Recognizing that fact can help you stay motivated while getting through it.

Over the weekend, I installed a gate at the top of the stairs in my house.  I dreaded the thought of doing it.  And during the first half of the installation, I was not enjoying it.

But then something made me think about my last blog post and how I said that we are all just trying to come to a better understanding of everything.  I asked myself sarcastically, “How am I trying to come to a better understanding of installing this gate?”

It turns out that I was going through the learning process.  Putting that gate together was an exercise in understanding and not just some weekend chore I had to do.

“17.  Adjust locking latch spindles until they fit securely into both latch brackets.  Top spindle must click under locking latch when in the closed position.  Space between end of gate and mounting surface on locking side may be no less than 1″ and not more than 3″.”

If that made no sense to you then you understand how I felt after reading that.  I was pretty frustrated that it was not more straight-forward. Why couldn’t they include pictures illustrating what parts and what positions they were talking about?  Then I realized that the challenge I had to overcome was to figure out what was going on in the instruction author’s head when he was writing this step.

I determined that there were five different concepts that the author was talking about in this instruction: spindle, bracket, latch, gate and mounting surface.  The spindle and the bracket were not attached to each other because I was tasked to fit them together.  Since I was putting those two things together and the spindle was to click under the locking latch, I figured out that the locking latch must have been apart of the brackets (which made sense because the author called the brackets “latch brackets”).

There were other revelations that occurred when deciphering step 17, but going over all the details is not necessary.  The fact is that I was participating in an exercise of understanding when installing that gate.  Recognizing that helped me through the last half of the project.

It also made me appreciate the process.  Installing a gate could be seen as a menial task.  A weekend chore that just needs to get done.  And even after all of what I was just saying, you could think that the knowledge gained during the installation is useless.  

But that is dismissing the act of learning itself.  Is the end goal of learning something just to be able to use it later on?  Or to tell people how much you know about a subject?  No.

The end goal is to understand.  That is all.

Photo Courtesy of PortableChurch 

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