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  • How many of you have read a book that said "This book will change your life"? And how many of those books were actually life changing?

    As a young boy, I had the ambitions of a child, to be an astronaut, a surgeon, a race driver, a fighter pilot. Never once did I think I would become an engineer.

    My father never raced cars, performed a heart transplant or looked down on the earth from space, but he fought and survived the Second World War and I always proudly looked up to Dad. He was my role model. I wanted to be like him. He wasn't an engineer.

    So, despite my childish dreams, I always wanted to join the Air Force and follow in Dads footsteps. I adored him and I wanted to do everything he could do.

    One of his hobbies (born more from financial necessity than pleasure) was to maintain his own car. From as early an age as I can remember he took me with him to the breakers to get spare parts, I would watch him, spanners in hand under the bonnet (or hood for my American cousins).

    From about the age of five, he taught me how to check the oil and water and fill the car with petrol (or gas ;-) ). He showed me what function each pedal performed, the fast pedal, the slow pedal, the one that made it all hang together, what the gears and clutch were for, what the dials and gauges meant.

    He introduced me to carburetors, spark plugs, feeler gauges, points and tappets, brake drums, gaskets, grommets, alternators and pumps, even the four stroke cycle; suck, squeeze, bang, blow. I learned abut temperature, pressure and torque.

    Without either of us knowing it, Dads hobby gave me experience. He taught me accuracy, precision and attention to detail. I could 'see' how things worked. I knew why things were made the way they were. If it was broken, I knew how to find where it was broken and fix it.

    When I was 15, Dad passed away. His leaving left a huge hole in my life.

    In the early 70's there was a TV series called Kung Fu with David Carradine. I loved it. The concept was new but it bought ancient ideas to the public eye, and each weekly story had a moral tale to tell. That series indirectly opened my eyes to the Buddhist concept of 'oneness'. Zen became an everyday word. I wanted to become 'one' with everything in my life.

    When I was 16, I discovered 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' by Robert Pirsig. This book truly changed my life.
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