broken parabolic



26 March 2010

Sometimes you've got to wreck a thing a little before you can fix it. And sometimes that means that you've got to fix the thing a little first, just so that when you wreck it, you don't wreck it beyond repair.

And that first fixing can look so forced, so artificial, so oblivious to the actual problem, because it doesn't address the problem at all. It can't. The thing won't yet survive the damage that addressing the real problem will do.

So you tighten the bolts. You change the bearings and you clean out the filters. You sand down the rusty parts and paint the whole thing shiny again. You talk about the weather and ask about the trip. You pour your efforts into anything that can be made better without making something else worse.

Only then, when the whole shabang is sturdy enough and might stand a chance, do you take the axe to it and start cutting out the part that really went wrong in the first place. The sledgehammer and the blowtorch do their merciless work, and you fight with the last fasteners that hold that troublesome element in place, wrenching it free with all the finesse of a wolf pulling the flesh off its kill. There's no other way to get it out. And it's only because of all your other, seemingly unrelated, work that the whole thing doesn't crumble to pieces in front of you; it holds together. It bends, it flexes, it groans and grumbles and complains, it shudders and shakes under the blows of your tools, but it doesn't fall apart. It holds.

And if you've done it right, when the whole thing lies broken again, you'll find yourself looking down at something that is, without question, worth fixing. Because you, and everyone else around you, can see it as it always could have been. The damage doesn't look so bad now. 'It just needs a new whatzit, that's all,' people will say. And they're right. They're endeared to it now, and want to see it brought back from the edge. Even the adjuster wouldn't write it off now.

The surgery is over; there's a nasty-looking wound, some blood has been lost, but the heart is still beating.

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