It’s Holding My World Together

Our world is held together with bolts and nuts.

We usually think of a car as a single unit. But really, it’s a few thousand individual components held together by thousands of bolts.

Bolts keep the engine, transmission, and suspension attached the frame. There are lug nuts on your tires, and bolts holding your seat down.

Around the house, bolts hold your fridge doors on, and there’s more holding the compressor in the back that keeps your food cold.

Speaking of compressors, there’s one bolted on to your home ac unit. And a bolt that secures the spinning fan on the drive shaft.

Bolts keep your lawnmower blade from flying off. And bolts keep your toilet seat attached.

We also have bolts in our brains that keep our constructs together. Oh yes, we often think of memories and the core truths that our personal world is built on as stand-alone, self-contained items.

But in reality, our minds have carefully assembled them from bits and bobs. A foundational experience here, a fleeting feeling there, a scrap of bias from off the floor; all firmly bolted together to make our inner world.

Here’s the thing, though, about bolts. We take for granted that they’ll stay bolted.

Which is a real leap of faith when you consider that the very nature of vibration and daily use loosens bolts.

Want to talk about shattering that faith? I was once driving down the highway when the front end of my car started shaking. Before I could pull over off pops my front drivers side tire. Snapped tire studs? Nope. The lug nuts had vibrated loose and rolled right off.

Guess who neurotically checks torque on their tires now? 

Which is why most things have a prescribed maintenance schedule. It’s to keep the bolts tight that hold our world together.

But what about a mental maintenance schedule? When was the last time you got to “check torque” on world views? Is it actually healthy to question everything?

To be sure, it’s not the kind of thing you can do while doom scrolling the infinite distraction. It’s the kind of thing that takes time and the long stretches of silence and solitude that have almost gone extinct. Introspection on what’s actually important to you versus what’s “supposed” to be important.

Is it worth taking the time?

Maybe. I don’t know. But I have a hunch.

As traumatic as it is to have a tire fall off while on the highway, it’s probably worse when the wheels come off a core belief.

– Zac Smith, VC