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thinking something’s broken doesn’t make it so

January 27, 2012

My husband and I share a six year-old iPod that I got as a Christmas gift.  In technology years, this hot pink relic is actually eighty-four and limping, and I find myself pleased (and a little surprised) each time she actually agrees to play music for me.

After his run a few days ago, Steve chucked his neoprene arm band in the washing machine, which I promptly turned on.  I was dismayed to discover, upon lifting clean wet clothes from dryer to washer, one small hot pink iPod still in her neoprene holster.  She had spun through exactly one cold water, heavy duty wash cycle, and I immediately knew she was ruined.  Unsure what to do (“should I put her in a bowl of rice to dry out?  since I don’t have any rice, can I use quinoa?”), I just set her aside for a day.  I broke the news to Steve.

“I accidentally washed the iPod,” I said sadly.  “She had a good run, though.  I can’t believe she worked for as long as she did.”

Steve reached over me and pushed the power button on the tiny device.

The little pink iPod worked just fine.

I’ve experienced it more than once, this bittersweet surprise, this revelation that what I believed to be irreparably broken actually worked just fine.  It usually happens the same way: I believe a thing is irredeemable, I step away from it, I file it away in a desk drawer — maybe I even forget about it, a little — and I later discover it was never really broken at all.

image by davetoaster via flickr

A friend lost someone she loved, someone from whom she was estranged, recently.  When she left him behind a lifetime ago, he was in the grips of an addiction so fierce she believed it would end him.  Learning of his death last week, my friend discovered her ex had lived his final years sober, caring for others,  loved by many, unbroken.

This isn’t my story, of course.  I can’t give breath to another person’s feelings.  Still, I think it must have been some kind of tender relief, her realization that, at last, he had become the man she had always believed lived underneath so much darkness.  I imagine the comfort she takes in knowing he’d found his footing, even if it had to happen in their separate years.  Today, I hope both of them are comforted by the miracle of a shattered life stitched back together, regardless of its end.

image by siegertmarc via flickr

I should write here that I believe in a million different kinds of miracles. 

I believe in the grace of God and the beauty of humanity.  I just know that every single one of us — each a miracle — has some brilliant star glowing somewhere inside, too bright to break.  I know this.  But when laziness overtakes me, when my reality becomes some cocktail of past biases, future fantasies, and faulty assumptions, I find myself frustrated and wrong about everything.  Sometimes things, and people, look so much more broken than whole.

But just thinking something is broken doesn’t make it so.

image by two stout monks via flickr

Today, I want to gather what’s broken in my arms.  I want to roll it between my hands and bang it on the counter top, give it new batteries, reboot it,  and start it all over.

When have you believed something was broken, only to find it waiting for you, whole and intact, sinking like a stone or floating like a feather?

Thanks for being a part of this unbroken chain, and thanks for showing up.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    January 27, 2012 11:57 am


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