Cracked 9/16/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Yesterday I started looking for a new cell phone. No, not because mine is “out of style” or “old”; I don’t care about that nonsense. My favorite cell phone of all time was actually a flip phone, but unfortunately, it picked a fight with the rear tire of my Jeep and it lost. If not for that, I would still have it assuming the battery was still holding a charge.

The problem is the screen. If you saw it today, you could very easily assume that there is nothing wrong with it. The small cracks in the upper right hand corner are so slight that they’re nearly invisible. Unfortunately, they’re there, but it’s not the cracks that make me want to replace it. It’s the weakness they represent.

Some months ago, my phone fell out of my pocket, as it had done a few times before. I’m pretty careful, so this is not a regular occurrence, but it happens. The first few times it seemed that there was no damage, but a month or so ago, there was suddenly a little reflective spot in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Looking carefully, I couldn’t see the break; it was apparently either in the glass, or behind the glass, but unfortunately it would reflect the light when the angle was right. This was disappointing, not because it had the damage, but because I knew that meant the screen was weaker, and the next drop might well expand that little spot to the point where the screen was unusable.

Sure enough, about three days ago, my phone had apparently fallen out of my pocket in my vehicle. When I opened the door, it fell onto the concrete, on exactly that same corner. As I’ve said, you can still barely see it, but that little damage had expanded into actual miniature cracks. It’s still very usable, but it’s a matter of time until they expand further.

When I was a kid, my dad came home upset one day because his car, a 1976 Dodge Charger (it’s okay to be jealous) had a small crack in the rear window. It was very small, and I wondered why it was so upsetting to him. But, that day, with the garage closed, the sun shown threw the garage window onto the rear of the car window and by the morning, it had shattered completely into small glass shards. As the window heated, it expanded, and that weakness turned into a catastrophic failure.

I understand how it feels. I used to pride myself on being logical, and tough. Seemed like almost everything would just bounce off of me; I could take the hits and come out unscathed. But something happened. It’s not the last hit that broke my phone screen, but all of the hits that it took from every time it fell. I’ve taken a lot of hits to my ego over the years. Early experiences toughened me up, but now I feel myself getting weaker. My divorce, my health emergencies, my job losses, it all adds up, and I can feel the damage it’s all left on my being. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to take things in stride when I feel I’m being targeted or wronged. I find myself wanting to hit back, and it takes more and more strength to hold myself in check. Sometimes, I literally have to leave the situation to find my center once again. I have inherited my father’s temper, and believe me, you don’t want to see it. It would scare the crap out of the Hulk. I don’t like that version of myself, so I try to keep it safely contained in its cage, but the cage is weakening.

Phones have protective screens that one can purchase to help prevent them from breaking. The idea is that when the phone falls, the protective cover will keep the screen from falling apart. In a way, I kind of have this, too, and believe me, it has saved my skin more than once. Any regular readers can probably guess what I’m about to say, but of course I am talking about my friends. Sure, I wish I had a wife to melt into, someone to hold me as I cry into her shoulders in the privacy of our own home to keep my pain from becoming public, but that I something I’ve never been blessed with. Yes, I know, I was married, but trust me, she was never that kind of wife.

But my friends, they have stood by me, and I have leaned on them a multitude of times. I try to be an open book, and I’m sure they’re pretty well sick and tired of it by now, but never have they failed me, never have they betrayed me. As I write this, the thought of their support and love is making me cry, a tribute both to how weak I have truly become, and how much they mean to me. Find your protective screen. We can only take so much alone, but together we are so much stronger.

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