Earlier today, I was out driving, running errands, when two things happened.
I started e-chatting with an artist who told me that he was working on updating his website and around that same time, the “Change Oil” light popped up on my dash board.
“Crap, I forgot!” I said to myself while driving. “Didn’t I just recently do this?”
The answer is “Yes,” of course, but it’s now time to get the oil changed once again.
You know, you would think that we would’ve learned by now. One concept always leads to another. What are they?
The accumulation of things means that life is maintenance. There simply is now way around it. Get anything – and I mean anything – new in your life and it’s going to require maintenance.
You wanted it. Now you have to keep it up.
This applies to absolutely everything: things, spouses, relationships, pets, jobs, gardens, memberships, activities, you name it. The more we get … the more we want to accumulate, the more we’re going to have to maintain.
In short, we are constantly being hit by the maintenance whammy. Yet our Western consumerist way of thinking almost makes it mandatory …
“BUY! BUY! BUY!” “GET! GET! GET!”
And yet, the more we want, the more we get and the more we get the more we want. And then, as we accumulate, we suddenly have more work to do with all of the dusting and tidying and keeping things in order. This applies to everything: things and relationships.
I have a storage room upstairs that has a ton of art work. I simply don’t have enough display space in this house, so much of my art is in that room. But here’s the thing …
Because I live in an old house, that room tends to get very hot in the summer and cold in the winter, so I have to keep careful watch on the art to make sure that it doesn’t get ruined. In short, the accumulation of things means constant maintenance.
And let’s not even talk about all of my art and architecture books. They’re decoratively, neatly and strategically piled up in various places around here, but they do require dusting off. Dusting is such a pain in the butt. Isn’t it?
Here’s yet another example …
I meet each month with a men’s group and just this morning, most of the men were talking about their wives. If you’re a wife and you’re reading this, take heart. Many of the men were talking about the “demands of marriage” and how being married is a colossal commitment that brings “things” into your life that you had no way of predicting.
In short, when you get married, watch out. You get hit by the maintenance whammy ... BIG TIME.
I kid you not, I’m now at the point in life where I don’t even want free samples of whatever at the mall. I don’t want complimentary pens or pins or company tee-shirts or tiny action figures or coffee mugs or any other the promotional, give-away items that most people take, but almost always end up in the local Goodwill store or at a garage sale, if not in the garbage heap.
Be careful. It might be free, but if you take it, there will be a price to pay. Maintenance never seems like it’ll be a problem until you actually get hit by the maintenance whammy. You never see it coming.
Next thing you know, you're on your hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor. At that point, maintenance is a bitch.
Websites have to updated, floors have to be mopped, clothes have to be washed, lawns have to be mowed, hair has to be shampooed, teeth have to be brushed, babies have to have their diapers changed, dogs have to be walked, wives have to be pleased, bosses have to be appeased, reports have to be written … I could go on and on and on ...
There’s just no end to it, is there? Everything is maintenance. Everything.
Have you noticed that not a single day goes by without some sort of maintenance? Even if you’re alone on a deserted island, things must be done. You have to clean yourself daily, you have to light fires for cooking and warmth, you have to build and maintain some sort of shelter. There’s no end to it.
I mean, really? Is all of this STUFF really worth it? At the end of the day, it’s stuff. Of course, it may be valuable stuff and have great sentimental value, but it’s still stuff that requires maintaining. Can you believe that you’re actually hearing an art collector – of all people - say this?
Not too long ago, I was watching one of those real estate TV shows where a guy said to his wife …
“What if we just sold all of ‘this stuff’ and moved to the Dominican Republic?”
Sounds good to me.
Do you know my idea of Heaven? There will be NO maintenance whatsoever. God will take care of everything. We won’t have to clean or monitor anything at all. We can simply play and enjoy without damaging anything. Damage will no longer even exist as a concept.
In fact, everything will regenerate itself. Maintenance will be obsolete.
Right now, I’m thinking about the many times I’ve ironed “wrinkle-free” shirts or lost “waterproof” watches or I’ve had to maintain “things” that manufacturers have claimed are “maintenance free.”
Look … I’m telling you. More and more, it’s feeling like a trap. We work hard to buy and accumulate things that are nice. It's what happens when our desire casts a spell over us, but those things ultimately only really mean yet more work.
Before you invite anything – and I mean anything – new into your life, be forewarned …
Like it or not, you will be hit HARD by the maintenance whammy. I don’t care what they told you.