Ross: An odyssey of awe, a leaky ceiling and the power of self-confidence

Jan 26, 2023, 7:32 AM | Updated: 10:07 am
Dave's DIY project turned into a sense of awe that he could accomplish fixing something. (Photo from Dave Ross)
(Photo from Dave Ross)

Three weeks ago, Colleen and I interviewed researcher Dacher Keltner on the subject of ‘Awe’ – which he defines as follows.

“How we define awe is the feeling you have when you encounter a vast mystery that you can’t make sense of with your current knowledge,” Keltner said.

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You approach the world like a child would – with wonder.

And in his book, he documents how having these experiences makes you mentally and physically healthier.

But I want to put in a word for a kind of awe that I experience but which I haven’t heard mentioned, even though I think it can be every bit as surprising and uplifting as a child discovering a flower.

It’s the awe of fixing something you didn’t know you could fix.

Tuesday, my wife noticed a puddle in the hallway. Drops had formed on the ceiling – like indoor rain – because the upstairs bathtub was leaking at the drain connection.

This is never good. So I approached the situation with childlike wonder, and I cut a hole in the ceiling. Chunks of wet drywall went splot on the floor.

And then, I decided – that this would now become an adventure! I am going to fix this myself!

I watched a very helpful YouTube video, bought the part I needed, unscrewed the broken drain fitting using a homemade wooden wedge, some 3-in-1 oil, and a heat gun and yes, when I had to resort to the heat gun I almost lost my childlike wonder and called it quits.

But I didn’t call it quits, and soon it was time for the denouement of this DIY adventure, which was to put water in the upstairs tub, go downstairs and see how much water was still leaking – and the answer was … zero!

And when I saw the floor was dry – because I had successfully done something I didn’t know how to do – I got that Oxytocin kick that Colleen is always raving about.

My hands still had dried plumber’s putty on them, but I felt like the star taking the final bow at curtain call because, this time, the forces of chaos and entropy did not win.

That has to be awe. Maybe mixed with some relief, but it still counts.

I will say I’m not closing up the hole quite yet. I want to make doubly sure it’s a happy ending.

But that’s my recipe for awe – fix something.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the hole in the ceiling. I’m leaning toward storing classified documents up there. Because I hear they absorb water nicely.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: An odyssey of awe, a leaky ceiling and the power of self-confidence