I know how to make a cup of coffee specific enough to my liking. I haven’t been electrocuted (yet) jumping off another vehicle. One time I even changed a broken part inside my washing machine so it could drain water again.

Some things in life you learn from others who take the time to pass along wisdom and expertise. Some things in life you learn easily or the hard way on your own. Thanks to the information age, there’s always plan C – YouTubing and Googling anything to get you through life.

I’ve learned really quick unhooking the battery and tightening the gas cap on a Toyota Tacoma may make the slip indicator light turn off. I’ve learned really quick by watching a four-minute video that changing the alternator in one is better left to the pros.

Thanks to the wisdom of others online, I can honestly say mixing laundry detergent, baking soda, vinegar and water works way better than Clorox bleach to clean a bathtub or vinyl siding.

As many times as I’ve tried to follow along online with Charles French of Total Image, Inc., though, it’s destined I’ll probably never master tying my one bow tie. The same goes for trying to sew up tears in a couple of pairs of Carhartt pants.

They say you can do anything you put your mind to, but dang….have you ever been frustrated and fighting mad trying to change the drive belt on a lawnmower or seeing a DIY paint project turn out less than perfect?

Last week, a failed attempt at fixing a plumbing issue at work added to the list of project shortfalls. Following a YouTube tutorial flawlessly doesn’t always fix a problem.

We all strive to do things we sometimes can’t do. Striving is done much easier than the saying about doing anything we put our minds to.

You can put your heart and hands into working towards yard of the month, but doesn’t the So-and-So’s yard that gets to display the sign instead of you make you so jealous?

You work hard to make A’s, get promotions, stack savings and live the life you want, but we all know there are changes out of our control to those plans. People posting videos and tips on those websites can only get you so far, as it takes a lot of heart for you to strive for what you want.

As much as I hate to say, I’m officially a middle-age adult. Plenty of my peers in the same age group have no clue what they’re doing when it comes to things our elders find simple to do.

My boss and I were in our late 30s when we asked her stepfather to teach us how to plant a garden. It’s not like I couldn’t have learned from my own family during the summers 20-plus years before then.

I can’t speak for my entire generation, but my tired heart was set on staying out late with friends and sleeping in way back then instead of being as productive as I should’ve, could’ve, would’ve been had I known better.

I’ve thanked Bill Edwards a few times for giving me a chance to work a few home improvement jobs in 2006. Because of his wisdom and expertise, I’ve got flooring in my house I successfully installed.

All of those home improvement shows on TV make us think we can rebuild a house but once you knock down a wall, it’s not coming back very easily. Googling and YouTubing how to correct a mistake isn’t going to help out as much when you’re frustrated and fighting mad.

Some people are craftsmen. Some people are mechanically-inclined. Most people at least know how to Google and find someone who can help when life’s shortfalls come.

Whether it’s restoring a car just like the one you drove in high school or making your own “Cake Boss” creation, put your hands and heart into it but know when to say when. It doesn’t take much to bring out your fighting side when you’re overly frustrated.

Ray Van Dusen is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.

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