Deep Breath: A Weekend of Broken Cars and Things that Matter Most

I am the son of a retired auto mechanic and worked many weekends and summers at the shop (most likely where my entrepreneurial blood started to simmer). My Dad taught me what I need to know, to fix just about anything a vehicle can throw at me (and he has always been just a phone call away when things get beyond my skills). So, looking to save a few dollars, save time without my car during the work week and wanting to get my hands a little dirty again, I decided that I was going to perform some required maintenance on my Lexus.

The project this weekend? Brakes. My plan was to simply replace the rear brake pads and be done; a task that should have taken about a hour and a half.

Two days later, today the car is still on the jack. Half way through the job, I discovered that the left caliper was frozen in place and would not accept the new pads. I spent much of Saturday trying, with all my mind and might, to loosen the rusted parts with absolutely no success. It would not budge. — Deep breath!

On Sunday morning I started a search for a new part; not the preferable day for such a task. Many of the local auto parts stores were closed and the locations that were open did not carry the correct caliper. I finally found what I was looking for online, but of course, it’s not available until Wednesday. So, I wait. — Deep breath!

“Not a problem.” I said to myself. I have my ’69 Camaro home for the summer. I acquired my black Camaro RS in 1986, two years before graduating high school (the story of how I saved enough to buy a classic muscle car before my seventeenth birthday is one for another post). I keep the car stored elsewhere for the winters, but the fall is its favorite season, so I still have it home in Chappaqua. With the Lexus out of commission for a few days, my plan was to take the Camaro to work… or so I thought.

Late Sunday afternoon, the Camaro too decided to kick back. The short story is that it lost oil pressure. Without oil pressure, it will not run very long before the engine seizes and you’re saving your pennies for a new engine. Luckily, it’s parked in a safe place and I have a good friend with a car trailer who is always ready to help (good friends are awesome, aren’t they?). — Deep breath!

Without going into all the other little things that didn’t go as planned this weekend, let’s just say, it was “one of THOSE weekends”. — Deep breath!

But there is always a lesson to learn. Throughout all this mess, I was reminded that life is good. The cars are just mechanical objects. They’ll get repaired (eventually).

Throughout the weekend, when I felt most depressed with my consistent misfortune, my kids, one by one and individually, found me and gave me a hug. They asked if they could help and if I needed anything. I was shocked. They are 10, 8 and 5 years old. I was so proud of them. Tears filled my eyes. My wonderful wife was there too, every step of the way, to keep me calm, help me find the missing parts and take over when I had reached my mental limits. She’s the best wife ever! (I should get points for that.)

So, what really matters most? The broken cars?

I often research the backgrounds of highly successful people. Entrepreneurs, CEOs, athletes, artists. I want to learn from their lives to reach higher levels of success in my own life. What I have discovered is that more often than not, in order to reach the very highest levels of success in whatever these people pursue, they must sacrifice… big time. They must be so focused and determined to succeed, that everything else in their lives must be neglected and eventually fails. They are well known for their successes, but few know of their ultimate failures.

I struggle with this phenomenon. I want to succeed at the highest level of what I do, but I am not willing to sacrifice the things that truly matter most. When I die, I would much prefer to be remembered as a great father, husband, son, brother and friend, than an entrepreneur architect who reached his dreams of ultimate success. — Deep breath.

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2 Responses to “Deep Breath: A Weekend of Broken Cars and Things that Matter Most”


  1. 1 MOM October 1, 2012 at 9:12 PM

    You already are a success. xo

  2. 2 Mark R. LePage, AIA, LEED AP October 1, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    Thanks Mom : )


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