I don’t think I’m a particularly clumsy person, but I suppose we all have our moments. The other week, I dropped something onto my favourite tea mug, and chipped off a bit of ceramic from the lip. The damage isn’t that terrible — the mug is very much still useable — but the missing piece is quite obvious.

It was one of those moments of inexplicable, disproportionate sadness. It was probably the fact that the damage happened so suddenly, and could have been prevented had I just held onto the other item a bit more tightly. Also, the mug has sentimental value, as do most things I use frequently, so I could not even consider getting rid of it (either by means of disposal or donation).

Fortunately, I have another of the very same mug in the back of the cupboard, so here was a solution: consign the chipped mug to the back of the cupboard, and use the other one instead. It seemed reasonable enough, but I still hesitated to swap them over. It seemed wrong in some way.

I think, at the time, I was reminded of a blog post I read some time ago (it’s very possible that I’ve mentioned this before, and I still don’t remember whose blog it was on, so sincere apologies if it is, in fact, yours). The blogger wrote that they always buy the dinted cans at the supermarket because most people pass over them in favour of non-dinted ones, but the contents of both are the same.

So then I realised it was a rather superficial thing to do, to stop using a mug just because it’s a bit chipped. And it was the whole mentality of disposability that’s so pervasive in modern society — that’s what bothered me.

A colleague of mine once tried to throw away a pen because it wasn’t writing – no ink was coming out. I was nearby at the time, so I actually retrieved it from the bin, and all I had to do was carry it around in my pocket for a while to make it work. It was a new pen that was clearly full of ink. It bothered me that he didn’t try very hard to fix it before giving up on it.

So I kept the pen, and I kept the mug. And I still use that same mug in much the same way I used it before it was chipped. Nothing has really changed, except maybe it has a bit more character — something to mark it as the favourite.

6 thoughts on “chipper

  1. You raise a good issue about how quickly people are willing to dispose of something. I’m glad you retrieved the pen and got it working again. There must be good karma in that. And as for your chipped mug, maybe someday it can become a pen holder. 😉

    • Haha that is good thinking! I’m not allowed to have liquids at my desk at work, but if it was just holding pens, that would be fine. And it would brighten up my desk too!

  2. Sharon, I thought about this over night. As someone who routinely fetches and revives *other* people’s cast-offs (and nurses along whatever ailing possessions I own), I totally get this. On the other hand, I’ve started to take the position that I shouldn’t keep anything around that makes me feel guilty or bad when I look at, including things I’ve damaged. It is significant how much emotion objects can elicit for better and worse.

    • Fair point. The chip did make me feel guilty initially, but I’m glad I changed the way I looked at it. Otherwise, yes, it would’ve had to go (and not just to the back of the cupboard)

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