I’m listening to the National Public Radio’s Car Talk podcast #1142 (“Do Cars Have Souls?”). A caller just said he’s bonded with his car so deeply that he identifies with the car’s soul. He said he’s had cars in the past with no soul but this one has a soul. Unfortunately for the caller, his car needs extensive engine work. His options are a complete engine rebuild or an engine replacement.

His question for the hosts of the show, Click and Clack: “If I change the engine, do I change the soul of this automobile?” Click and Clack understood the caller’s dilemma, and recommended that the engine be changed and the car monitored to see if the car distances itself with the caller. The hosts had fun with the call, but there was an obvious element of seriousness in the subject. The hosts understood the concept of a car’s soul. I understood what the caller was saying too.

I had a bike with a tremendous soul when I was a teen. The bike got me. It understood where I wanted to go and wanted to do more than take me there – it wanted to go too. When we were climbing the West Virginia mountains or pretending to be Evel Knievel and his bike, we were one. The bike would do anything I asked, as long as I was at the controls.

I let a friend ride it once. Once. He hit a tree head-on and knocked out a front tooth. I found his tooth and gave it to my friend’s mom. My friend had a bloody face, the tree had a gash in it, but the bike was unharmed.

My dad said my bike was too dangerous, so he sold it another friend who broke his arm riding it. The person who bought it from that guy broke his back on it. I lost track of the bike after that. As I said, it wanted me at the controls.

That brings me to my dilemma. I’m re-writing something I first wrote about four years ago. It originally came out as a poem which I merged with a series of dark photographic images and made an 8-page digital booklet I called, Dead Little Johnny. I was proud of it at the time.

I re-visited the project last week with plans of making it available as a free PDF download in this morning’s Mapping the Edge post. After a few re-reads, I decided that I hated the poem and began a major re-work of the story idea.

Unfortunately, it’s now a convoluted crappy mix of poetry and prose with no impact. I hate Dead Little Johnny now more than I did in its original state. I changed the engine of my story and lost its soul. The funny thing is, the story is sort of about that.

To me, very few things are worse than wasting energy on a bad idea…unless it’s giving up on a project too soon, and adding to my stack of unfinished work.

How do we learn the difference between being too stubborn to move on from a bad idea, and being persistent enough to do the work required to finish a project?

Is the caller there?