December 05, 2013 3 Comments
the final part of a narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are resolved.
synonyms: finale, end, finish, close
There’s a poignant moment when a structure or paradigm meets its match. In engineering, this is a precisely anticipated event but still tends to give us pause. When a design has fully delivered all of which it’s capable, there’s a collective sigh. A life well-lived, we often say.
Thirty years ago, Jon took a photo that has a special place in my world. I keep it near. A curiosity for most. As a wheel builder and rider, for me it defines finality: surrender to forces and time greater than we can control or understand.
This is a front hub that, by the look of it, has been built multiple times. The spokes have been gouged and deformed by use. Wheels around this hub have travelled tens of thousands of miles. Created at the limit of low weight and simplicity, we finally arrive at complete failure.
The hub material has fractured. Too many miles? A metallurgical flaw? Excess spoke tension? Crashes and abuse? I prefer to think, a life well-lived. Against all the uncertainties of time, one can only do one’s best. Hub or human, you can’t take it with you. One can only derive lasting satisfaction from doing your very best, asserting your wits and life force against obstacles and skeptics.
This hub and its spokes are forever in my memory. Like the Japanese concept “wabi sabi,” the aesthetic based on impermanence, suffering, and emptiness. Key elements include asymmetry, roughness, economy, modesty, and appreciation of the innate ingenuity of objects and processes.
Can you imagine a better embodiment of dedication to function than this tired little hub? It gives me peace and motivation to live a life of such simplicity and devotion. Mechanics and bicycles head down the road, ultimately to an end. But not martyrs, heroes!
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