Miles Coverdale (manos74) wrote,
Miles Coverdale

Consider steel.

It is possible to make steel impervious to scratches or dents--heat-treat it, and lay down a layer of case-hardened carbon over its surface, so that it will never, ever dent or bend under stress.

Now consider the bulldozer.

The earth-moving blade on a bulldozer is very mild steel--almost cast iron. It is not heat treated or case-hardened. It gets none of the fancy molecular realignments you get in, say, armor-plating.

Why is this, you might wonder.

It is a fact of life that the harder you make steel, the more brittle it becomes. In the case of the bulldozer, you could make the blade all heat-treated and case-hardened to the same amound of toughness that tools are made. If you did that, however... the minute that blade hit a buried rock, it would shatter like glass. A mild steel blade, though it would get scratched and dented and ugly, would survive whole.

Being rigid and being brittle go hand-in-hand. The harder you are, sure, the more you're able to resist dents and scratches and rust. You can resist anything, right up to your maximum stress.

One additional straw beyond that maximum stress, however, and you have shards instead of a useful tool.

The trick, therefore, is to be soft, to be mild. Sure, you'll get bend, scratched up, dented, and rusty. Sure, you won't win any beauty contests. But at the end of the day, you'll still be whole and unbroken.

Something to consider.
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