A recent story in The New York Times noted that author Cormac McCarthy, who has typed what he estimates to be “five million words over a period of 50 years” on a portable Olivetti manual typewriter he bought at a pawn shop around 1963, is finally getting rid of it and upgrading to … another one just like it.
The secret to the typewriter’s longevity? “It has never been serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose.” *
Alas, it finally wore out. He was able to find another one that a friend says he bought for $11.
In the age of Windows 7 and netbooks and instant communication, one of the greatest writers of our generation is still crafting through a typewriter ribbon. And having worn out his current partner, the perfect time to finally make the switch to computers, he isn’t budging.
There must be a lesson for runners in this. It’s not the watch or the shoes or the tech fabric or the compression socks or the same arm warmers that Ryan Hall wore in the Olympic Marathon Trials. It’s what is inside of you that matters. Everything else is just clutter.
* I think this would be a fine epitaph for me as well. “He was never serviced or cleaned other than blowing out the dust with a service station hose.”