December 14, 2016
Repair is Inevitable
We live in a world constantly in need of repair. This repair that is ubiquitous in our society can range from fixing a hole in a sock to mending a relationship that ended. As Homo sapiens, or Homo reparans as Elizabeth Spelman calls us in her book Repair, we have a tendency to try and “repair,” sometimes without even knowing so. Throughout Repair, Spelman compares the similarities between repairing cars and repairing people. The analogy she creates is intriguing but also questionable due to the complicity of a human being. The goal of repairing a car is to make use of it again and to have it in working condition, however, what is the goal of repairing people?
Spelman believes that the correlation between the repair of humans and cars is to return them back to a basic state of functioning.
“The analogy between the repair of a car and the repair of a person suggests that there is a kind of repair of humans that restores them to a state of basic functioning, of being able to use their energies and skills as they see fit” (36).
This suggests that like cars, humans have the ability to get back to how they once were. By definition, basic functioning is restoring something to some kind of functional state, but, what does a person look like or act like at a functional state? Cars at a functional state are cruising down a highway or street in order to get people from one place to the next. People on the other hand are constantly changing and reacting to different circumstances, resulting to a repair that isn’t as guaranteed as it is for a car.
Often times we hear in order to fix a relationship you have to own up to what you have done and try to fix what is broken. When offering an apology, you are really seeking to destroy the state of rupture that hovers over the relationship acting as a raincloud, constantly pouring on the two of you reminding you of the ongoing storm. The apology serves as the umbrella, the raincloud is still in the sky, but the umbrella makes sure that the relationship is unaffected by the storm. In other words, even though repair destroys what was once broken, the raincloud, or the past, will always hover over, serving as a reminder to what was once broken.
I have always been the type of person who tries to forgive and forget when someone sincerely offers an apology trying to repair what they have done. Even though I chose to forgive a person, the memory of what they had done will always stay with me in the back of my mind. The brokenness that the person caused in the relationship isn’t just repaired from an apology. I think that Spelman may be wrong when she says that repair terminates what is broken, but rather time is the real remedy to heal a relationship. As human beings, we undergo a myriad of situations where relationships are tested when people hurt one another. Coming from the side of the person who is in the wrong, an apology is necessary to repair the relationship, as long as then receiver is willing to accept. Just because the situation that occurred is repaired, doesn’t mean that the person truly is at ease with what happened. The past will always follow the relationship and stay in the minds of both of the people. For instance, do you ever notice how when you get into a fight with someone, often times the past is brought back into the present, even when it was already settled and repaired? This is because the past has a connection with the repair of things; there can’t be repair without bringing up the past. People may forgive what had happened and come to terms with the situation, but they will never forget or leave the past in the past because of the memory.
Moreover, Spelman simplifies what the purpose of repair means. Repair means exactly what it sounds like, when something is broken, repair fixes it: However, when talking about a human being, rather than an object, how does one know if the repair actually destroyed not just the physically aspect, but the emotional aspect of the brokenness. How can a person who suffered through the Holocaust or someone who lost a loved one ever really return to a basic state of functioning if the memory is forever apart of them? These questions really depend on how mentally and emotionally willing a person is to go through life, as Spelman would say, at a “basic state of functioning.” Cars basic state of functioning require them to be able to bring people from one place to another. Humans on the other hand are more complex and the question, “Can a person ever achieve a functioning state” is something to consider. Not only can emotional healing such as relationships come into effect, but physical injuries can put an emotional toll on the way a person functions, even after the repair. During my senior year of high school, I had a season-ending injury to my left knee.
I ended up tearing my ACL which required a surgical procedure and a very long recovery to get back to walking and being active again. Just as engines can break and stop a car from moving, muscles can tear stopping a human from moving. Spelman explains the relationship of cars and humans stating, “So than like cars human beings wear and tear, like cars human need not just maintenance but repair if they are to keep on functioning” (35). Tearing my ACL, makes me validate that repair isn’t what heals brokenness, but time does. After my surgery and the months that I had to go through in order to heal, I still am not back at where I want to be. The old me was carefree, adventurous, and up for any challenge when it came to competition. Now, my leg is healed. I was “cleared” to be back to my normal, but the mental aspect of the injury and the memory will always stay with me, making it almost impossible to ever truly get back to being myself. As a result, whenever I watch, think, or try to play the sport that caused me the suffering, both physically and emotionally, I think about the memory of becoming broken. According to Spelman, “A young person’s confidence in her abilities has been shattered” (35). Even though cars and humans need repair to get back to a functional state, I believe that Spelman needs to take into consideration how the human mind can come into play with repair. Sports injuries happen all the time and many athletes recover into even better athletes than they were before. The repair didn’t make them stronger, but rather the time they needed to get over what had happened and come to terms with their circumstance. Every person is different and it all depends on the time your mind needs to feel at ease with the past, taking the brokenness that hovers over you, and seeing it as something that made you stronger.
You've been involved in your sport longer than you can remember. As you've grown, so have your strength, endurance and…www.competitivedge.com
Above, is an article which describes what athletes who encountered a sports injury go through mentally. According to the article, “The mental pain caused by your injury and the temporary or permanent loss of your sport can be far more devastating than the stained or torn ligaments, pulled muscles, ripped cartilage or broken bones.” Mental toughness is crucial in order to have a quick recovery; however, it can be hard for athletes to feel that they can get through the mental block they are feeling. Having coaches and parents who are sensitive to the healing process can lessen the mental anguish that the athlete struggles with. As an athlete, sports aren’t just something that you play, it defines who you are and gives you a sense of identity. Losing something that was once a part of you can cause you to have a low self-esteem. You constantly ask yourself, “Who am I without my sport” and feel that you will never get back to your old self. Even though the memory and the pain associated with the injury will stay with you, there are ways to overcome and cope with the pain in healthy ways. Rather than sit and mop and ask the question “Why me” take an active part in your healing process. Set goals to accomplish that can gain your confidence back and slowly take away the memory of the injury with the sport. Most importantly, be patient. Your leg may be healed but mentally it can take a long time to get back to trusted your skills and body. Time is the only thing that can help a person mentally, and everyone is different so time can vary for each person. Yes, the injury will be a part of who you are, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get back to the old you or even a better version of yourself.
Conclusively, saying the phrase “repair fixes brokenness” is true in some cases when dealing with the physical aspect, but in other cases, mental repair is more complex and requires more than just repair itself. In life, as existentialists would say, people don’t have the ability to choose what happens to them, but what people can choose is how they react to their situation. Repair isn’t a concrete thing; it requires much more than what most people think. Not all things in the world can be fully repaired like a car, and we have to accept that. It is important to come to an understanding that sometimes repair isn’t enough to fix the mental aspect of things, rather it is the person who can chose their response by understanding what really matters, and taking the time to heal in a healthy way. Yes, repair is a good thing in the sense that it fixes things and gets them at a state to function again. That is the first step of the term “repair.”
The second part of this comes from within an individual. The saying mind over matter can be a way that someone can deal with the emotional memory that comes with repair. Mind over matter is all about coming to terms with what happened to you, and seeing your struggle as a way to become something better than you once were, even before the brokenness. When one has the willpower to turn the negative past into something meaningful, then one can overcome the brokenness that is lingering on, serving as the raincloud, and endure past a basic state of functioning. But until then, the thought of the memory will continue to hover, even with the protective umbrella.
Spelman, Elizabeth V. Repair: The Impulse to Restore in a Fragile World. Boston: Beacon, 2002. Print.