Re: Things my folks told me while I wasn’t paying attention

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While browsing the “redundant advice” thread, I started thinking about the various tidbits of advice and wisdom that my folks shared with me that hasn’t been made redundant with time. Of course I was very young at the time and probably didn’t see much long term value to their words (such is the nature of a childhood perspective) but every now and then, something pops to mind and now, decades after the fact, I finally get it.

One such story goes back to my dad’s teenage years working in a mill in Scotland during WWII. One day, a giant cast iron flywheel, weighing several tons and spinning at full speed, shreaded it bearings and jumped off of its mount. The wheel smashed right through the brick wall of the mill and took off across a field. My dad climbed through the rubble and chased after it at a dead run.

The wheel flattened crops, crushed irrigation ditches and smashed through stone walls like a needle popping a water balloon. My dad chased the thing for over a mile, watching it tear up fields, blow holes through barns and flatten chicken coops.

Finally the wheel fell into a small gorge and ground itself to a halt in a river bed. My dad caught up with it and collapsed by the side of the rill. His face was red, he was dripping with sweat, his heart was pounding and he could barely breathe.

He was still trying to recover when his boss from the mill sauntered up to him. The man was very old, smoked a pipe, wore a rustic kilt and clearly had taken his time following the swarth of destruction left by the renegade flywheel.

The man helped my dad to his feet and asked him one simple question: “What, exactly, were you planning on doing if you’d actually managed to catch up with it?”

I had to encounter a few “run away flywheels” of my own (metaphorically speaking) before I really learned to appreciate the moral of the story, but I’ll always be grateful to my dad for sharing this life-lesson with me.

So what tidbits of wisdom did you guy get from parents and grandparents that seemed like cross generational bunk at the time but has since rung true in your own life?