Sure, sure. We all know the saying. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And most of the time, it makes sense. Why mess with a good thing, right?
In fact, I’m a proponent of the “if it aint’ broke” crowd in many circumstances, especially in relationships. For example, I won’t be pushed to a timetable for “next logical steps” when others think it’s required.
Then again, when something is broken, that’s another matter.
Two days ago my car broke down. I managed to get it to a nearby garage where it sat, and I sat, and then I was driven home.
What followed was a long series of phone calls, messages, automated customer service menus, and eventually my car was towed from the auto repair shop in one part of town to the dealership, some distance away. There, it appears to be awaiting exploratory surgery (still), and I suspect, more days for me to wait.
Meanwhile, without wheels, my planned week has been scrambled. I hope I’ll have a loaner by this afternoon. As for the cost, please pass the Pepto… until I see the bill. Then we’ll see if I need something stronger.
Breaking down? Especially when you haven’t the resources to fill in for what’s just gone missing? It can be hard. It can be worse than hard. It can be devastating.
But the break down also encouraged me to be resourceful. To reorganize my time. To rethink the rigor required in order to pursue daily exercise, to regain strength to walk miles to get things done – on foot.
Just in case.
After all, you never know when one part of your life might break down – physically or logistically – requiring you to call upon another area of your life or your personal qualities that stand you in good stead: ingenuity, stamina, your legs.
Routine is helpful. It gets us through impossible schedules, frazzled days and nights, and the stresses of contemporary life that would be untenable otherwise. Routine provides stability, and structure for discipline that might waver without it.
I like routine. I need routine. But the same old-same old can also lead to complacency, to stagnation, to going nowhere that equates to falling behind. So there are times that I break my routines intentionally – in order to break away from the usual, and see what unfolds.
As new parents, we crave routine. Remember those first weeks and months of sleepless nights and endless worries?
Everything is new; we can’t wait until we’ve figured it out, weathered a few years, adapting to each stage and grateful for periods of sameness. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” works wonders during these years.
Yet even when things are humming along, we may believe in change. In trying something different. We may choose to break the rhythm, deliberately.
When my younger son was in elementary school and then middle school, he was doing well. Nothing was broken, but I sensed that he could do better. So I decided to push him, and to do it differently.
I changed the way I praised him for good performance, and instead, I challenged him to achieve outstanding performance. Oh, it wasn’t breaking news, but by nudging in this way – a different way – I succeeded in motivating him to succeed, and I saw him take greater pleasure in learning more and doing well.
Change is disorienting, whether you initiate it to shake things up, or it floods into your life against your will, as you’re left floundering, and ultimately – adapting. We fix things when they break, but sometimes, we break things in order to refashion them. To create change.
Do I tweak my habits at times, for no other reason than change – in and of itself? You bet. I tweak my writing, I tweak my environment, I tweak my look, I tweak my Daily Plate of Crazy.
I ask myself: Is any of this broken? I don’t think so. Will I break it all the same, just a little?
Possibly, and I hope in a good way. Because I like creative change that will allow me to break out, break loose, experiment, and take a risk. Without risk, there’s no reward. Without experimentation, we don’t encourage learning.
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