Friction makes heat

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Life can be irritating. It’s not always pleasant. Frankly, depending on your mood- simply reading that may be irritating. Let me do it again. Sometimes that irritation can be good. Since this year’s theme is “Feeding our fires in times of need” I think of the image of someone starting a fire with friction- takes work, but if you need the fire, it’s worth it. I prefer the image from my childhood of getting out of the spring-fed lake where we’d stay in the water until our lips were blue and teeth chattering and my mother rubbing us with towels to warm us up. Or think of rubbing your hands together to warm them at an outdoor event. Sometimes the friction is good.

The question I’m asking myself this week is how far the analogy can be pushed? In the old TV show Babylon 5, the overarching conflict was between the Shadows who wanted war because it lead to progress, and the peaceful Vorlons who preferred stability. I think the conclusion we were supposed to come to was that a balance (one less destructive than war) between the two “ideals” was the goal humans should attempt.
Or to refer to an old joke: burning down the hut is the wrong way to cook a pig. We can have the benefits of the heat without an out-of-control conflagration.

Another image from the past is the old idea that to build muscle, you use ‘dynamic tension’- working against resistance creates the muscle. This is a good example of keeping the resistance under control to make it beneficial. Other similar images include the pearl that is created because the oyster was irritated, or the individual who ascribes their achievements to having had to overcome great challenges.

While there’s nothing wrong with learning life lessons or indeed, hard work, I will always recommend finding silver linings- or at least some good to come out of a bad situation, we don’t need to assume that everything extreme is bad, it may simply be how things are. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. Learning to adapt to conditions is something humans are very good at. So when you experience friction, it may not always be a bad thing, it might be just what you need.

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