Friday, May 26, 2023

A Clean Break and Holding It Together

We often use the expression, "Make a clean break of it," when referring to a toxic relationship or a job we dislike whenever we want to be done without blowback. Today I appreciate this metaphor more than ever, as a literal enactment of what just occurred in my kitchen.  

A tiny houseplant needed watering. It was sitting a beloved Cambodian Celadon plate. I picked up the plant from a table to carry it to the kitchen counter. The much heavier plate stuck to the bottom of the plant's ceramic pot for a split second as I lifted it, then bam! It unstuck itself and dropped to the floor.  

Halves of the plate
close, but with a 
visible break
I knew my floors were hard (concrete slab covered with a fake wood-grain vinyl for disguise), but I was astonished to see what a clean break it was. With the sound of plate smashing, I imagined shards of pottery everywhere--under floor-cupboards' overhang all the way to the rug where the living area starts. But nothing . . . just ONE tiny 'crumb' of pottery beside the two plate halves. Fitting the halves together confirmed there were no missing chunks of plate except that crumb from the underside. 

Nothing to clean up (except my sadness at losing the plate)! It was a powerful visual image of a clean break. Not a rip. Not a tear. Not a perforation, shatter, or splat. A near perfect clean break. Wow--what an image for leaving behind whatever unpleasant relationship we're untangling from. No hard feelings? No residue of any kind? We can hope. 

Holding it together.
Who would know?
When I decided I wanted a visual record to help me remember the plate after I placed it in the garbage, another metaphor announced itself: "Holding it together." To make the plate look whole again without the break showing, I literally had to hold it together. Because I needed one hand for my iPhone camera, I pressed the plate's halves together against the kitchen splashboard to depict it without the break. Yeah--it took effort, just like it does to figuratively hide hurt, disappointment, or annoyance. But . . . the break was as close to imperceptible as I could have imagined.  

I'm going to try to keep these images tucked away in my brain somewhere as powerful reminders of what we mean when I casually use the metaphors. Perhaps the photos will help you, as well.


Nora said...

This a useful metaphor! As I was picturing you holding the plates together I realized while doing that you can’t do anything else, so “holding it together,” while often necessary, should not become a way of life.

beatstalkingtomyself said...

Thanks, Nora, for sharing that observation. I hadn't considered that, but it's so true.