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A Million Words. . .More Or Less

July 6, 2022

This is an Apple keyboard. I use it to type on my Apple iPad. Both the keyboard and the iPad are eight years old. It’s been dropped. It’s had stuff spilled on it. I’ve taken it camping and hiking. Nearly every blog post on this site has been written on this keyboard. Multiple short stories. Years worth of newspaper articles.

I estimate I’ve typed close to a million words on this keyboard. It’s held up pretty well.

I’ve retired it. I’m now using a Microsoft Surface and a new laptop. As I was removing the keyboard I noticed the wear pattern. Nearly every word has a space after it. (Not two, that’s for old typewriter warriors.) I’m right handed, so my right thumb has hit that spot on the space bar hundreds of thousands of times.

I never noticed the change in shape. Certainly not from one day to the next. Not even month to month. But, over years, that constant wear has an effect.

There are lots of things that follow this pattern. Water wears down river rocks over time. I’ve seen a picture of a spot in a Buddhist temple where there are imprints in the floor from the monks feet. Steps get worn down. I have tools that I’ve used so much that they eventually wore out and needed to be replaced. I had my favorite pair of shoes resoled so many times due to the leather wearing out that I eventually had to throw them away.

Yes, things get worn down.

But, not everything. Sometimes wearing something down is positive.

This is a file. It’s a diamond coated file for sharpening knives. A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife. And the only way to sharpen a knife is to wear it down.

I like to build thinks from wood. One of the key features of working with wood is that you always make smaller pieces out of bigger pieces. Even after you reattach those pieces you have to sand the boards. More wearing down. But, it’s necessary wearing down. In fact, it’s part of creating a thing.

And that brings us to people. To you. To me. We all have pressure on us. We all have a thumb pressing the space bar, a knife blade on a file.

Unlike the objects I’ve mentioned, we get to decide how we will respond to pressure. We can let it wear us down like my eight year old keyboard. Or we can allow it to sharpen us like my Kershaw knife blade.

The difference is really up to us.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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