The Feeling of Fixing

The second it becomes apparent that something is broken… a process, a paradigm, a reality that just shouldn’t have to be… I feel a spark of frustration and a guttural groan emerges from deep inside. I immediately pick up a pen and grab for a legal pad to jot down the details contributing to said brokenness. I stare at the paper for a while, making sure to let the circumstances soak in. The brokenness must be fully absorbed. The frustration grows a little bit. Like pouring water a sponge – not actually bigger, but fuller, heavier, and denser.

Then the fixing comes in to play. I throw ideas around in my head and through my pen, scribbling nervously in an attempt to fix. To invent. To innovate. To repair. To soothe the frustration of brokenness. I scratch out the ideas that won’t work and the ideas that would make the situation more complex than it needs to be. I scribble some more. And scratch out some more. Scribble and scratch. Over and over. It creates a friction – much like the friction of rubbing two sticks together. Over and over, scribble and scratch.

Suddenly, smoke appears. A thin, almost undetectable, string of smoke. I scribble and scratch, again and again, and soon I cannot only see the smoke but I can smell it and taste it in the air and feel it’s heat on my hands. And that’s when I let it breathe, feed it the air it needs to catch on fire. Letting an idea breathe is the hardest part. It’s easy to act on the excitement that creative friction provides – wanting to do anything you can to alleviate the friction, the frustration. But it’s hard to leave it alone to smolder. What if it dies? What if I have to start all over again? What if it FAILS?

I check it time and time again to see if it’s magically caught fire yet. If the fuel of brokenness and the heat of the friction had been met with the air needed to ignite. I blow on the idea a bit – stoking it a smidge with minor edits and revisions but still giving it room to consume the air around it.

And eventually, just after the moment I’ve nearly become bored with the idea, it catches fire. It catches fire and everything makes sense. The idea becomes a gaggle of flames crackling and popping and I begin to feel an overwhelming sense of urgency to celebrate that I made fire out of brokenness.

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