Have you ever wondered how certain things came into being? Who was the first person who decided that cooking blood and stuffing it into pig gutt would make a decent-tasting sausage? Who discovered moth balls? Who thought it would help civilization to develop German toilets with a ledge built in?? (Those of you who have used one will understand my dismay!). Of course, there are some creations that appeared by necessity and serve a clear purpose: retractible vaccum cords, Hide-a-Keys, and seedless grapes. But what of those other, less necessary things?
Such were my musings as I stood next to a German-Spanish mechanic and watched him take my car’s brakes apart while carrying on a steady monologue about his life, his opinion on American politics, and the human cause of the world catastrophes of recent weeks. I watched him pry apart my locked brake pads (the reason for my presence in his shop) and observed the steps he took to file, clean, and lubricate each part. Ever since my childhood, I’ve been fascinated by mechanical things. I’d sit and watch my dad fixing cars, VCRs and toasters, sure that I’d never be able to repeat his feats, but happy to know how things work nonetheless. And last week, I marvelled at the complex simplicity of my car’s brake system as I tried to formulate coherent German sentences to keep my mechanic’s monologue going (heaven forbid that I be subjected to a dreaded awkward silence). Brakes are a marvel, I tell you! Some brillliant person did us all a favor by inventing them.
And then it dawned on me that I’ve probably “invented” both useful and useless things in my life too. A rudimentary understanding of computers? Useful. Basic conversational skills? Useful. A calm demeanor in the midst of chaos? VERY useful, considering my occupation! But what have I learned, through pain, resentment and sheer survival, that does more to harm than to help? What are the ways I’ve compensated for weakness, eventually building, rock upon rock, impenetrable barriers? I firmly believe that change and invention (evolution) are essential in life, but not ALL change and ALL forms of invention…
So rather than expose my flaws and further mystify those of you to whom I am already “too warped for color TV” (name that movie!), I’d like to leave the question dangling:
What have you developped in your life that is more detrimental than useful? And if you can identify it, can you also “undo” it? Take the ledge out of your toilet, take the blood out of your sausage… Whatever it requires, shouldn’t we all be constantly sifting through the myriad particles of who we are and discarding the useless to be more wholly ourselves?
Just a thought. That’ll teach me to spend too much time around mechanics……