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  • Like Helen, I'm not one for writing more than one story a day, but also, like Helen, this is bursting out of me.

    How did this book change my life?

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The title had it all for me. Oneness on one hand, and engineering on another. How did this work? The Zen bit I could grasp, but engineering as art? I had no idea or appreciation of art? Vehicle maintenance as an art form? Was it art?

    I have always had this 'insight'. I didn't learn it, I wasn't shown it. Whether it came from my time with Dad, I don't know. It may be a skill, a sense or experience, but I can look at a problem from several angles. I can see it in detail, or I can take a metaphorical step back and look at it from a distance. I never gave this any thought. It 'Just Was'! That's how things worked, everyone knew this.

    But this book put everything into perspective. I suddenly understood why Dad looked after his car himself. It wasn't money. It was quality!

    Very early in the book, Robert Pirsig describes how his motorcycle engine overheats and seizes. He knows the problem, he knows the solution, but lacking the specialist tools needed, he takes his motorcycle to a garage ('shop' for my US friends). He put his trust in the garage, in the mechanics. He expected quality.
    His description of how the mechanics looked like children, were clowning about and playing the radio
    at full blast didn't give him confidence, and his fears were proven. The mechanics didn't diagnose the problem, wouldn't listen to his explanations, and caused as much damage as they were supposed to fix. The original fault was never adequately resolved.

    The mechanics had no attention to detail and no real interest in their work. To them, it was just a job. They would get paid regardless of the standard of their work. There was no skill involved, no attention to detail, no interest, no quality.

    There was no 'Oneness' with their trade, no 'Art' in their work. They had no pride in their chosen profession. It was just a job!

    Those hours spent with Dad watching and learning as he quietly worked on his car, never complaining about my constant stream of questions, just patiently showing me how to do things right, to his standards.

    Suddenly, it was all clear to me. That is how that book changed my life.

    The time I spent with Dad was Zen and Art.
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