top of page
  • Writer's

Zen and the art…of repair.

This is my friend at ElectroSAV. I am at an electronics shop and he’s showing me how to solder in a new resistor for the galley lighting on the boat. Most of the things on the boat are specific to the boat. The hole that was cut to fit the light, for example, is precisely cut for that light. If it goes out, it’s very hard to find a replacement. So we, on Ibis do what I almost never did in the USA, we fix things. Almost everything can be fixed. Something sailors have known since sails! Pumps and lights, toilets and sinks and motors and relays, shoes and sails, bodies, ignorance, hydrolics, electronics and solar systems. And you find the rest of the non-Amazon nations, those not suckling on Mao are geared to fix, not A2B “add to basket.” These repair folks simply didn’t exist or were very hard to find in the US. Or more likely they went out of business. But they’re all over the rest of the world. It worries me, not only because of the massive impact of the throw-away economy on landfills, the environment etc. but because the A2B economy promotes a learned helplessness. And it props up a culture and nation that with its rapacious foreign policy is diametrically opposed to freedom, for their own people and to ultimately your freedom and mine. In time. We don’t want to think about the long term impacts of our economic bedmates. But we should. Tell me the Middle East, 911 and all that mess is not a byproduct of petrodollars. There is little that is as empowering as learning that you can fix something. And you meet the coolest of people, who are excited and willing to help you understand the genius in design, and the natural ability we all have to fix what’s broken. When I have a pump or a motor disassembled, sometimes with someone else, increasingly by myself or with the ladies, and tracing the flow of current or water one gets a fairly good understanding of how and why it was made just so. The elegance of the system or the machine, or the folly of its designer becomes quite apparent when you have its guts in your hands. The way first year anatomy confirmed my belief in God. Next time something breaks, challenge yourself: try and fix it. Google it. Youtube it. Find a repair shop. Go there and talk to the guy or gal behind the desk. Take it apart, get your hands dirty. It builds confidence, your brain, your Zen, community and a smile. You believe in yourself again. And now we have light for cooking!

32 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Oct 23, 2022

Dear PM, this is the first article I wandered in to. I loved reading Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance years ago (due for a revisit) so the title pulled me in. I see the through line to this situation and reflection.

"There is little that is as empowering as learning that you can fix something"

Agreed. I had a similar experience building computers way back when, dealing with all the intricate hardware and software components. Most everything is turnkey nowadays, and something is lost. What's the cost of convenience and abstraction? Seems high.

Will be thinking further on this. Off to explore more of your stuff.

PS. This is making me want to sail around the world.


bottom of page