One of the first presents I remember getting from my parents was a camera. I was about seven years old, and from the prints I still have, it seems that most of my photos were of my guineau pig, Muffin. There was a roll of film from my second grade class, and then there was a roll of film I took during a family gathering in the backyard. My dad was building a deck at the time, so amongst the photos of people eating food in the backyard, there are also a couple photos of him getting my uncle to help him with parts of the deck.
At the time, the fact that my father was building a giant deck didn't seem like a big deal. Just like making sandwiches or taking the kids to the museum, deck building was just one of those things that dads do sometimes. Looking back now, and doing the math, I realize that my father was around my current age when he built that deck. He had some kids by now, was married, had bought a house, and was now building a deck.
It occurs to me now that he probably had no clue about any of these things. What does a twenty five year old really know about marriage? Having kids is equal parts exciting and terrifying to me, and I'm five years older than my parents were when they had me. My father's father built things when he needed them, so I guess he taught my dad some things, but I also know that the giant deck in my photos was the first deck he'd ever built. How much did he know about deck building?
As I grew older and became more aware of what was going on around me, I realized that a lot of the time when my dad built something, he had no idea what he was doing. I don't mean that as an insult at all, though. Everything he built always came out great, and eventually, sick of an office job, he bulit things for other people as a profession. In fact, of all the great things I got from my dad, the willingness to tackle something without really knowing how to do it might be the most valuable.