Street Tales: Teaching an old dog new tricks

In my semi-retirement I’m starting to work with wood. So what’s the big deal you ask; a lot of people work with wood don’t they? Well, wood and I at one time were mortal enemies; still are some days. I was always a measure once; cut twice and end up too short type of wood worker. Give me metal such as brass, copper and mild steel, and I’m OK, but never wood.

So this morning as I’m out in my shop building a project, I got to thinking how crazy I was to be working with wood; you can probably tell by now it wasn’t going go so well. But then, I’ve done a few projects and they have turned out OK, so I remembered that the reason that I started working with wood was that it would be an extreme challenge for me; I’m still always up for a new challenge.

Living in this day and age is full of challenges; finding the right job or type of work, earning enough to keep the wolf away from the door, hopefully with a few extra dollars, raising a family and many more. If those needs are met, then there is always what to do with our spare time. Entertainment, sports and other physical activities, social events and relationships; all told, we are presented with new challenges every day.

One of the greatest challenges is choosing the right ones so that we can live a normal life within our society. I work in a place that sees a lot of folks who, for whatever reason, have not met challenges all that well. As a matter of fact, most often they are ignored or just not seen as a new challenges or opportunities, rather they are seen as a roadblock.

Now, I have begun to realize that recognizing and accepting a new challenge is something that is normally taught in childhood; the same as all other aspects of facing life. I guess one of the challenges as a parent is to be able to teach your children that new opportunities are not something to be feared or rejected but rather to be taken as a building block in one’s life.

As water seeks the easiest path when flowing down a slope, so it is with us when we face difficulties, opportunities and challenges in our lives. We sometimes take the easy path which usually leads to no growth or possibly harm as it is with drugs and alcohol. The aim when facing these things is to meet them head-on and weigh them to see if they will help us grow or if they will have no value for our lives.

Several years ago, a young woman who had ignored every challenge she faced and was totally addicted replied that after she had gone through detox, the reason she never gave up the drugs and alcohol was because she was scared of life on the other side, (life without drugs). She maintained that attitude till she overdosed and died.

Sometimes fear of failure can also stop us from checking out new opportunities. I see that so often in some of the young kids that come to the kitchen; their response often being, “well, I would probably screw it up anyways”. For a few of them, knowing some of their parents, you begin to understand that the apple does not fall too far from the tree. It would take a concerted effort on the child’s part to overcome this fear.

As a parent, I also know that this is a test of our own resolve and ability, but we should never, ever not try. If an older dog like me can learn new abilities, then our youth for sure can.

Chris Salomons is kitchen co-ordinator for Potter’s Hands ministry in Red Deer.

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