Clean break – I’ve heard the phrase several times over the past few weeks. Once in my own head and twice from the mouths of two very respected colleagues, which got me to thinking – is there really such a thing? It is truly possible to make a clean break? After some thought, I’m beginning to believe that the answer is, in fact, no.
Let’s take glass for example. If dropped onto any hard surface it usually shatters to pieces and cannot be fit back together. If you’re lucky and drop it from a shorter distance and onto a softer surface, it may result in a crack, which may still render it useless. And if it survives the fall unscathed, it will continue to function in it’s usual capacity. But what if you want a clean break? You’ll have to have the right tools and the right technique to ensure a clean edge, and even then there’s no guarantee. Heat is usually the best option, but this can be tricky as well, especially in the hands of a novice.
Now let’s take something less delicate like a chocolate bar. Even though Mr. Hershey was nice enough to score the bar into12* even pieces, very rarely will you be able to break them off cleanly. And while heat helps with glass, cold often helps with chocolate. Freezing a Charleston Chew makes for a delicious (and less messy) treat, but still results in tiny little flakes on the counter when you cut yourself a bite-sized piece. Clean breaks when dealing with chocolate are very hard, if not impossible to come by.
So if clean breaks are so hard to come by with tangible items, why on earth would we ever expect them to be possible when dealing with human beings? When there are a million emotions at play, no matter what the situation or circumstance, it’s nearly impossible to walk away from someone or something without any residual effects – which is what a clean break truly is. Someone will always feel betrayed, heartbroken, misunderstood, underappreciated, or they may just not get what the real reasoning behind the break even is. I think in lieu of clean breaks we should coin a new phrase that’s more realistic, so who’s got something catchy in mind?
* There are in fact 12 squares on a traditional Hershey’s Chocolate Bar, although there are now a few less on the one I used to confirm this.