It Is Easier To Want What You Get Than To Get What You Want, Apollo 13, and Rube Goldberg Machines

Hi folks,

I remember reading a Zen Meditation book, written by a small group in California (I couldn’t find this book on line), in which it was stated that ‘it is easier to want what you get than to get what you want.’ It really means that you can enjoy life with what you have, rather than always wanting what you don’t have, to which there is no end. This sounds like the Chez Ollie all wrapped up in a different package, but it is still excellent advice. I was reminded of this book when Nick, Deb’s 13-year old son, asked me to help him with a school project, the creation of a Rube Goldberg machine.

Nick came to me with a complex diagram of such a machine, which naturally included marbles to roll, and levers, and wheels and such, and he was asking if we could go to the store and buy the parts he needed. It was clear to me that there were two major flaws in this approach, one being the cost, two being the problems we would encounter actually finding the bits and pieces he needed. Then I thought of that book, and realized that a better approach would be to look around and find all the bits and pieces of ‘stuff’ that he could on our property and then design a machine that incorporated these components. So I said to Nick, “do you remember Apollo 13?” Nick looked at me blankly! I then said “the carbon dioxide scrubber? Remember that guy throwing a pile of junk on a table in front of a group of geeks and telling them that they had about six hours to build a carbon dioxide scrubber from this pile of ‘stuff,’ this being the only stuff that was available in the spacecraft, and then to explain to the Apollo 13 crew how to do it, or the crew would die?

Scene from the movie Apollo 13 (from showing the materials from which a group of scientists had to design a carbon dioxide scrubber within six hours in order to save the crew from asphyxiation, and they succeeded!

The light went on, and Nick immediately started to dig around the house and accumulate all sorts of assorted materials, including an old bicycle wheel. Then his dad got involved, and the last I saw of it they were happily working on building a contraption for his school project and I was off the hook. This shows the power of an idea and outsourcing!

Tim Ferriss would have been proud of me!




  1. Rory Conolly says

    Very smooth of you, Kevin!

  2. O.K.

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.