Zen and the Art of Throwing Away Broken Junk

A few years ago, while exploring the ruins of my grandfather’s shed, I found an old wooden ladder. This was a basic, folding stepladder, covered in paint drips, that my grandfather had likely used for decades of household repair. Nothing exotic about it. But the ladder, though I had never seen it before, had a quality I instantly recognized: a half-assed repair job. The spreader hinge that keeps the ladder locked into place when it unfolds was missing on one side. And my grandfather, rather than spending 89 cents at True Value, had wrapped bailing wire and electrical tape around it in a huge mass as a replacement for the missing part. This struck a familiar chord because it looked like the kind of laughable craftsmanship my father has exhibited over the years, and wasn’t too dissimilar from the sort of ladder repair I might attempt myself.