When I was growing up, I started making model rockets. I started with a kit but after a while, I built my own. The engines I could buy at the store didn’t go as high as I wanted, they were unreliable in wet weather, and I couldn’t buy them locally. Building my own engines might solve all those problems.

One day I was reading through my brother’s high school chemistry book. He was ten years older than me and I thought I might find answers about the proportions of chemicals to mix in my rocket engines, how big (or small) the rocket nozzle needs to be and such. Internet search engines hadn’t been invented yet and books were where you went to learn things.

My brother blew by, slammed the book shut, laughed, and said, “you don’t even know what you are reading.”

He was right. And I don’t hold a grudge for his saying it. But what he didn’t understand was that I had set a goal to double the height that the store bought rockets flew. I did not know how to do it, but I was reaching to learn how. Reaching, that is where learning happens.

I have never fully understood anything in a chemistry book. But today, even after all these years, I remember which chemicals to mix at what ratios and how to calculate the size of the nozzle to make a model rocket engine climb into the sky.

I try to pay my experience forward in a restorative way. When I encounter someone reaching to understand something that might be way too advanced from where they are, if it is my book to give, I try to just give it to them.


Brandon Blankenship
Latest posts by Brandon Blankenship (see all)