People are like gears in a repair shop. We’re usually in manufacturing uteruses for the first nine months of our lives, then we’re shipped out into the world of loving department arms where we familiarize ourselves with the people who come and go—parents, siblings, relatives, close friends, the strangers we pass by every day in public. And then, one day, one of these strangers will sweep us off our feet into a love-filled kiss and we’ll live happily ever after and be just like the gears inside of clocks whose notches are a perfect fit for each other. Fairytale, anyone? However, life isn’t a fairytale, and in this day and age, finding the gear that fits perfectly the first time around doesn’t exist. That’s why I believe people are like gears in a repair shop; they’re not the newly packaged ones with labels displaying their exact size, guaranteed to work or your money back—they’re the ones in large piles you have to spend hours rummaging through until you find the one that fits. And sometimes, this may take getting used to a few gears before you find the one you can be with.
Like so many other people on earth, I am one of those still in the repair shop. I’m not brand new—pretty rusted actually, with knowledge and insight. I see myself as an organically shaped gear with chipped notches instead of one that’s perfectly geometric. And I’ve been turning. I believe people start turning once they figure out how the world works—that way, they find their own rhythm in society’s beat. Then, the difficult part comes. It becomes more challenging to find a gear that simply fits. You have to consider the pace at which the two of you turn, if your notches fit, and if whether or not you’d be okay with the imperfections of the other gear. And sometimes, when a little thing called love happens, you just can’t help it but to bend to fit the other person. It’s how I’m able to get along with my family and friends. But there are times even, when it is impossible to function with the people you love. Such was the case when once, I attended a relative’s religious ceremony. I realized when I was setting the table that I wasn’t at all like these other daughters. Their faces were covered with inch-thick make-up, and hair streaked and dyed blond, each of them conversing about their boyfriend problems. Though we were all supposed to family—our gears spun in opposite directions.
When I was younger, I never quite understood why romance films had to end when the heroine and hero were blissfully united. At the time, I didn’t realize that characters in films lived “normal” lives. That meant, aside from all the excitement captured in the video, ennui, everyday stuff goes on—lovers have their good and bad days. And now, I understand why, sometimes, when couples realize that they start turning at different paces, and their notches are being bent too thinly or out of shape, or they just don’t fit anymore despite their compromises—it’s time to let go and allow each other to function again. That’s when people return to the repair shop.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.