photo: Roger H. Goun on flickr

Why is it that duct tape and extreme situations are often paired together?

Earthquakes? Duct tape.

Hurricanes? Duct tape.

Non-stop talkers? Duct tape.

In my case, the situation isn’t quite as extreme:

It started with my Prius.

photo: z egloff

That’s right, I’m a Prius owner. In case you’ve never met one of my kind, we’re extremely proud of our vehicles. So much so, the Prius is also known as the Pious.

Call it what you like, we Prius owners don’t care. We’re in love with our cars. And our cars return this love with extreme reliability and killer gas mileage.

But one day, my little love bug took a hit.

I’m not sure how it happened, but when I went outside to get in my car, my sideview mirror looked like this:

photo: z egloff

Yikes! How could it be?! My angel was maimed.

Normally, I’d take her into the shop right away, but I’d just taken her in for a tune up. It takes time to drop her off at the shop, get a ride home, get a ride back, pick her up again. But at that time in my life, I was really, really, really busy. I was in school, I was writing, Melissa and I were doing all kinds of fun projects, like metaphysical nerd raps.

I didn’t want to take the time to get her fixed, but I also didn’t want to drive around with a maimed Pious.

What to do?

And that’s when I remembered the chart. The one I saw online. It looks like this:

My angel’s sideview mirror was flapping in the wind. She had a moving part that wasn’t supposed to move. But now I had the answer:

Duct tape!

We didn’t have any black duct tape, so I rushed to the hardware store and bought some. I was so excited! I know it’s just duct tape, but it is – as the chart points out – the answer to half the world’s problems.

And now I was in possession of some.

I rushed home, tore off strips of the appropriate length and width, and wrapped them around my angel’s sideview mirror.

And, just like that, she was all new!

photo: z egloff

Well, she was wrapped with duct tape, which isn’t the usual look for a new vehicle, but she was new in spirit. And that’s all that mattered.

As the days went on, I discovered that the duct tape repair worked pretty well. Except when it didn’t.

Like when Melissa bumped against my handiwork and the whole thing fell apart. I had to get out some more tape and fix her up again.

Then it rained, and the duct tape freaked out and fell apart. I was too lazy to get some new strips of tape, so I kept rewrapping the old tape around the mirror, trying to get it to stick.

It was during this Lazy Period that I was driving my angel around town.

The duct tape had been intact when I’d left my house. But the ride on the freeway had caused the tape to freak out once again, and now my sideview mirror was dangling off the side of my car like it was considering making a run for it.

There I was, sitting at a red light, feeling extremely embarrassed about allowing my angel to be seen in such a state.

What did this say about me, as an owner of a Pious? Had I no pride?! How could I let my angel parade around town with her parts hanging all over the place?

photo: karl frankowski on flickr

And that’s when I saw it.

There, in the lane next to me, was a white sedan. And not just any old white sedan. Oh no.

This was a white sedan with white duct tape wrapped around the passenger-side mirror.

I could hardly believe my eyes.

It was the Ivory to my Ebony! The Yin to my Yang! The White Knight to my Dark Lord!

It was like Spirit had parted the clouds and come forth to deliver me a message:

Yes, your Pious isn’t perfect, but neither are you. Neither is anyone. The beauty of being human is embracing your imperfections. Celebrating them. Why do you think I invented duct tape in the first place?

photo: Timothy Tolle on flickr

Yes, there have been greater miracles in the history of the world, but I’ll take my little Duct Tape Miracle any day.

It made me relax. It made me laugh. It reminded me that I’m not alone. That I’m patched up with duct tape, just like everyone else on this planet.

Yes, I took my Pious to be fixed, eventually.

But before I did, I wore my duct-taped mirror like a badge of honor. Like those Indian tapestries that put in mistakes on purpose, to remind us that “imperfection” is woven into the fabric of human experience.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that my Pious purposely busted her mirror, just to teach me this lesson.

Indeed, perhaps that’s the deeper truth behind this little story:

Everything on earth is imperfect. Except the Prius.

photo: TechShowNetwork on flickr

How do you handle imperfection? And what part does duct tape play in this process?

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