"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

sweet skills

One of my friends from law school recently bought a bike at the annual UC Davis Bike Barn auction. They gather up all the bikes left out in the rain, much like the cake of which Donna Summer sang, on the campus over the previous year, and then sell 'em cheap. My friend mentioned that she thought she'd need a new chain, and one of the shifters didn't work. I eagerly volunteered to work on it so we brought it home with us on Sunday. I began to realize that this particular bike might, also like the cake in the song that "took so long to bake," be a bigger project than I thought. However, I'm totally fixated with the project and enjoying it immensely, and I'm gaining valuable skills in case I need to get an extra part time job or the lawyer thing doesn't work out.

I noticed I have a work style that sometimes is problematic for both bike repair and lawyering. I have a hard time choosing what to do first and staying on it until it's done and I can move to the next thing. I get distracted by new tasks, especially if one or two of them reach a place where they're stuck, and end up with a lot of parts (or papers) spread everywhere. However, it makes the effort of eventually imposing order on the chaos feel very impressive and rewarding. I think it may also impede my forward progress a bit. Some of this is the result of people calling me with worse, more urgent problems than the one I was previously working on. I can't use that excuse with the bike though. I'm happy to report that at least I finished putting the headset back together with fresh grease yesterday and it's now smooth as the sweet green icing that flowed down on that cake left out in the rain. Everything else (and I mean everything) is a work in progress.

Maybe I'll try to go to work early and tidy up my desk in the morning if I can step away from the bike. I wish it wasn't so dark at night; I've had some trouble sleeping this week and it would be nice to be out there tinkering away. I need to go to the bike shop again tomorrow and purchase some extra ball bearings that seem to have snuck away in the process of working on the hubs.

[editorial note: at first I debated whether I should leave the Napoleon Dynamite reference in the title of this post when all of the other references are to Donna Summer but then I realized that since the movie, like the song, deals briefly with the subject of cake, it all made sense after all.]

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