There once was a gallery. In this gallery, there were just two displays. One was a intricate vase made of ceramic, the other equally intricate, but made of wood and steel.

People came from miles around to look at the two exhibits. Both had been created with love and effort and sweat and tears, the artists pouring all of their soul into each creation.

One day, there was an earthquake. Both vases fell off their pedestal. The wood and steel had some minor chips and fractures, but was for the most part, intact. The ceramic vase, however, shattered into a dozen pieces. It took the artist a week to put it back together, but once again it was whole.

Time passed. Some didn’t like the cracks and stresses evident in both works. But what is a few fine lines in a magnum opus.

One day, there was a flood. Both vases fell off their pedestal. After the earthquake, the wood and steel artist had added some reinforcing. This time, it resisted any calamity. The ceramic vase, however, shattered into a two dozen pieces. It took the artist a month to put it back together, but once again it was whole.

More time passed. The ceramic vase was now riddled with cracks. Compared to the wood and steel, it looked worn and tired. The crowds around the ceramic vase grew fewer.

One day, there was a fire. Both vases fell off their pedestal. After the flood, the wood and steel artist added more reinforcing. Once again, it resisted any calamity. The ceramic vase, however, shattered into a hundred tiny pieces. It took the artist a year to put it back together, but once again it was whole.

The ceramic vase sat on its pedestal next to the wood and steel one. Compared to its stronger friend, looking as new as it did the first day of its exhibit, the ceramic vase spidered with thin cracks, chips, and shards missing not to be filled in. Less people came from far and wide to see it. It was more, a cursory stop on the way to the gift shop after admiring the vase that could withstand it all.

“My friend,” said the woodworker, “you have toiled and toiled over this ceramic vase. I see the love you put into it. But the universe seems to have other plans. Please, use some of my steel. Take some of my wood. Your vase will not survive much longer like this. I see the way people look at your vase. Pointing at the cracks, sneering at the gaps. Every day your queue grows shorter and mine longer. Please, I implore you.”

“My darling. There is bravery in accepting the fragility of our vase, knowing what the earth will throw at it. To every day wake up, committed to maintaining the vase and respecting its form, to spend days and hours and weeks putting it back together, there is no better use of my time. So thank you, but there is courage in the choice to stay breakable.”

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