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I Learn and I Succeed

Story ID:6934
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell Idaho USA
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“Come on, Mike!” My older brother, Vic, yelled. “Hold it still!”

“I am, Vic!” I screamed back. “I’m holding it as steady as I can, but your hammer
just missed my finger.”

“You’re such a sissy!”

“Am not! You just don’t know how to hammer.”

“Just hold the nail, Mike; we’re almost done.”

“Don’t hit my finger!”

“Do you want a go-cart or not?”

“Of course I do, but I won’t be able to use it if you break my finger.”

“But I will!” he sneered.

“I want to ride it too!”

“Not if I bust your finger!”

“That’s what I mean! You don’t want me to ride our go-cart. I’m going to tell

“Stop being a sissy.”

“I’m not a sissy!”

“Then hold the nail!”

“I am!”

Vic swung: I jumped; the nail fell to the ground. “Mike! What are you doing?”

“Saving my finger.”


“Butt face!”

Several days later, we had our cart ready. We painted it with a half full can of
gray paint – something we found in the cellar. Four old lawnmower wheels, spiked into
2X4 axles supported it. The front axle was fastened to the frame by one spike, so it would
swivel when we pulled on the ropes we’d nailed to each end. Next to one of the rear
wheels, we nailed a length of lathe. With only one nail, we could pull on one end and
force the other end of the lathe against the wheels to act as a brake.

We rolled our contraption to the top of the hill leading to Grandmum’s house.
“I go first!” Vic said.

“No!” I whined. “You said I could go first!”

“Did not!”

“You did to! I’ll tell Mum!”

“Tell Mum! I’m going first!” He leaped onto the wooden seat and grabbed the
rope steering wheel. “Push!” he yelled.

I pushed. He rolled down the hill. He pulled the rope to steer straight, but
snaked down the hill out of control. Before he crashed into a telephone pole, a wheel
popped off. Our rickety cart ground to a halt. I tried not to laugh but couldn’t help it.

We dragged it home with thoughts of improving it, but it sat forgotten by the
corner of the house. Our young minds moved to other things.


“Let’s build a camp!” Chris said.

“Cool!” Craig agreed.

“Yeah! We can build it in the woods on Hart’s point.” Wade chimed in.

“We can find lumber on the shore. My dad has a saw.” I chimed in. “We can build
a cool camp. No girls allowed!”

“No girls!” Wade agreed. “They’re a pain.”

We found four trees. They stood in what could be considered a rectangle. It was
close enough in shape for our needs. They’d be support beams for the best camp in the
world. Within a few days, we had enough lumber to create the floor. We ran out of wood.
The camp was forgotten. We moved on to other exciting things. News spread os a dead
whale washed ashore on a beach nearby.


Vic and I pulled the old boards we found into the front yard. We planned a new
camp. We’d gathered old the lumber from an abandoned house to be torn down. Vic
pulled the nails from the rotting wood. Together, we straightened them with rusted
hammers we collected scrounging throughout the neighborhood. In a few days, we had
the floor completed. It was a rugged mess of wood. Stuck together with used nails, with
holes in places the woods didn’t meet properly, it was a pathetic piece of work, but we
were proud.

We ran out of lumber.

Our camp sat on the lawn, killing the grass.

One evening, after a rain, our dad, angry at us, tore it apart as a rainbow lighted
the eastern sky.


They were the dreams of a children playing grownup. We planned, worked, and
failed. Something always came up to distract us from our projects.

It took years for me to realize the lesson of finishing a commitment. I have to plan
a project and complete it. If I leave something half done, I’ve failed. If I complete a
project that doesn’t work out the way I planned, I haven’t failed. I’ve learned.

I plan, fail and learn.

I learn and I succeed.

Michael T. Smith