Shims, and my running cap

I’m a big fan of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – a fictionalised autobiography and philosophical discussion that I read only because I had a motorbike needing more maintenance than I could patiently provide!

One of the things that keeps coming back to me from the book, was the proposed use of a shim (a thin piece of metal, actually a cut up piece of beer can in the novel) to sort out some loose handlebars. To the owner of the affected bike, this was sacrilege – it was a BMW and needed the right part specifically from the manufacturer and a BMW technician to fit it. Because I like things ‘just so’, I’ve been the kind of person who would want this, too. Reading about the shim, about the meaning and value we infuse in things, shifted my perspective.

I’m wearing my running cap a fair bit while I’m out trotting now, due to the swings in weather which keep the climate crisis in mind. Recycling is a hugely important part of addressing the crisis and it seems stressed above the other two elements in the chain of ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’. The first two prevent a problem though, while the third only mitigates it. The shim, a piece of beer can, touches on all three.

My running cap, which I’ve had for more years than I can remember, keeps flying off my head in high winds – the elastic is shot. It’s sun-faded and not the latest wicking material or style, but it does the job wonderfully (fashion aside). Yesterday my beloved got me some new elastic while they were in town and today I’ll be stitching that into the cap. Landfill can wait a while – it’s got plenty more miles in it.

Reduce, re-use, and only then, recycle.


(Photo of my cap and trusty old-skool running watch)

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