Accidental Object Lessons with Papa Weaves: A Brief Meditation

Rusty bolts can be hard to get out, and you have to work slowly and carefully, because if you break it, your job is going to be that much more difficult. So you unscrew it until it doesn't want to budge, and you can feel it sticking. Then you retrace your steps. Screw the bolt back in a bit or all the way, spray some WD-40 on it. Then repeat steps 1 and 2, over and over, until your shoulders ache and WD-40 sludge is dripping down the socket wrench.

It has been remarked by wiser individuals than myself that progress doesn't march in a straight line. King talked about a "moral arc of the universe" that bends toward justice, which has at least this implication (if we're taking him quite literally): that it's not always clear what our present course is aiming at (for justice is not geometry, with perfect calculations). Or as Gandalf says, "Even the very wise cannot see all ends"--and who among us can even claim to be wise?

But perhaps the rusty bolt is closer to home than the straight, clean curve of the arc. We push forward until the resistance is too great, and fear or prejudice exert the equal and opposite force that brings us to a halt. And in the face of such resistance, some people melt away, and we move backward a bit, but we've beaten down the path in the march forward and while it makes our retreat that much easier, it also clears the way again for a renewed advance. Back and forth. Back and forth. In hopes that somehow, eventually, we'll have worked out the problem, and we can make it good as new.

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