Sunday, August 28, 2011

Broken Things

I broke a wine glass today while emptying the dishwasher.  It landed first on the tile counter, then bounced onto the open dishwasher door, then onto the floor.  The sound echoed almost musically in the kitchen, really a fabulous audio result for one glass.

A child appeared almost immediately in the doorway.  "You broke something?" he asked.  Hopefulness and excitement brimming in his voice.  He crouched down to see the remains, fairly contained in the small space where they fell between machine and cabinet door.  "Wow," he said.

I was amused by his reaction and quickly dismissed it as something peculiar to children, this vivid interest in new things, unusual things, and let's face it (with boys especially), with destruction.  But then I realized that I would have done the same thing if it had been me in the other room, him someplace with something broken.  I would have checked him first, but I would have wanted to see the destroyed object.  What is it in our human natures that draws us to calamity, to broken things?  Is this why the best characters in fiction are flawed?  Would we rather watch them destruct or rebuild?


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"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka