Repair: Fixing Stuff, Fixing Yourself, Fixing the World

One would hardly think of minor repair as something that can get one to think and lead to meaningful conclusions. Yet it is precisely what it did for me.

Normally, I try to keep as far from DIY as humanly possible. When something needs fixing about the house or breaks down, I set it aside and put it off for as long as possible, hoping until the last moment that the problem will somehow solve itself. When I finally decide to take a look at it, I usually decide that trying to fix it is just not worth it – buying a replacement is faster and more convenient. It is not that I am lazy – or, rather, my laziness is selective. I am incredibly industrious when it comes to my own job. I just do not like to do things with my own two hands.

However, recently, DIY got to me where I always considered myself safe – at my workplace. I work from home, spending most of the time typing away in front of a PC. I am what is called a knowledge worker – yet another reason to keep away from doing stuff with my hands. After all, I can earn more by doing my job than I can save by spending the same amount of time inexpertly trying to fix something that can easily be replaced.

However, it seems that the universe decided to put this idea to the test.

First, the slides of my keyboard tray fell apart, showering bearings all across the room. Very well, I can put the keyboard on the top of the desk, and it is even more convenient this way. Then, an armrest of my chair fell off and refused to get back in place, making it lopsided and unsteady.

Usually, I am quite industrious in everything that is related to my job and extremely lazy in dealing with everything else. But the look of what my workplace turned into somehow was more than I could bear. There was something incredibly humiliating in not being able to solve this little problem and putting it off day after day.

So I decided to deal with it in one fell swoop and replace my entire workspace. I even start feeling a familiar excitement that one feels when buying something new and shiny.
And then I thought: do I really need it? All this furniture is still perfectly serviceable. There is nothing about it that makes it unfit for further use. It just needs a little repairing. If I am going to get rid of it anyway, why not try doing something about it?

And so I took out the toolbox that did not see the light of day for the last few years and looked at what I had. Quite a basic set, except for a drill with a collection of drill bits – it was probably the best cordless drill at the time it was bought, as a misguided housewarming present, a few years ago. Now it did good service, quickly boring through wood and metal. I purchased new slides for my keyboard tray (the old ones were hopelessly busted) and, after a bit of fiddling, mounted them so that the tray moved smoothly back and forth. I scoured the Internet and found a way to put the armrest of my chair back in place.

It all took hopelessly long and had me sweating, swearing, and cursing myself for deciding to go against the grain out of nowhere. I could have applied my time more efficiently doing something I am proficient at.

Yet after it, all was done, and I looked at my amateurish (and, truth be told, rather ugly) repair efforts, I felt a sense of accomplishment and pride in my own work I do not remember feeling when looking at my “real” job, for the longest time.

It got me thinking. I did not just go against my own habits. I went, on my own, minimal way, against the entire consumerism philosophy of the modern world: Do what you are best at and do not look away from your work. If something breaks, throw it away and buy something new to replace the void.

It is something we do every day. Blindly moving forward, always in a hurry, too preoccupied to see that there is something more beyond being effective at what we do. That there will not always be more where that came from.

Doing this simple little repair got me thinking. It got me feeling like a better human being. Somebody who did more to make the world a better place with this act than he probably did for the last couple of years – which is both sad and promising. Sad because it is how many of us live our lives. Encouraging because it shows how little effort one needs to do something after all.

This content is sponsored by David Gutierrez.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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