This I Believe

David - Waynesboro, Tennessee
Entered on September 13, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in self reliance.

I am the youngest of four children and the only boy. My father died when I was seven. My mom had to go to work and my sisters had lives of their own.

My father had been a do it yourselfer and though he wasn’t with us any longer some of his tools and his example remained. I learned early to do things like fix flats on my bicycle and change radio tubes.

We had a basement apartment we rented to graduate students. One taught me about hi fi systems and helped me build a soapbox racer. At the engineering fair that year he put me to work steering a large parabolic mirror, keeping it focused on a small steam engine to demonstrate solar power.

I went to a prep school but I was not academically inclined. My favorite class was shop which was only offered for one semester. I enjoyed being a member of the audio/visual committee which allowed me to tinker with movie projectors and be the sound man for dances.

After not finishing college I enlisted in the Navy to stay out of Vietnam. They put me on a destroyer and sent us to Vietnam. The crew of a Navy ship has to be prepared to fix anything that breaks during a deployment.

I have worked as a mechanic, carpenter, roofer, plumber, electrician, and furniture maker, all trades I initially picked up doing for myself. I have fixed up a fixer upper. I repair cars and appliances, make my electricity, made and maintain my water system, heat my house with a woodstove I made, burn firewood I cut, and play the banjo I made. And I do housework.

I built my own house, a thirty year work in progress.

Inspired by a man I met who had made his own shoes, I make my own hats.

My wife loves it that, in addition to being her hunk of burnin’ love, I’m also her mechanic and handyman.


I’m not completely self reliant. I am socially awkward, a failure at gardening and a klutz with computers. When the job is too big or too dangerous I get help.

When I learned to meditate I was taught that the benefit is due to the practice of meditation, not so much what your beliefs are. Likewise, it isn’t so much belief in self reliance but the practice of it that has been, for me, a source of much satisfaction.