I’m having my front windows seen to. They take a hammering, being on the weather side of the house; the paint was peeling and the putty was cracked. So George is taking out all the putty, sanding them down and putting in beading instead of putty. It’s taking a long time and the whole house seems to be gritty and grubby. But it will be better when it’s all done.
It seems to me that a lot of life is about maintenance. We’ve got to maintain our bodies with gym and diets, ungents and pungents and lotions and potions. We have to maintain our bank balances by working. We have to look after our possessions, have our cars serviced, get insurance. Houses are absolute thiefs of maintenance. Maintaining relationships is another thing and maybe of a different order to pruning the roses, but still requires effort, albeit of a more pleasant kind. So, one way or another a lot of our time goes into maintenance.
Why bother? When the end point of ourselves and all things is death, what are we trying so hard to maintain? I suppose we could answer this in different ways. We could say that there is no point in doing anything as we are going to die anyway. Or we could say that all this maintenance is a way of denying the reality of death – a wanting to keep ourselves and our things young so that we forget about the imminence of death. Or we could be pleased that in ourselves and all things we see the signs of ageing and decay, because these are the reminders of death. If we are mindful of death then it wakes us up to living. And if we are living as whole-heartedly and richly as can be, then it’s best we do all these maintenance tasks as well as we can because they enhance our living.
There we are then! I think I’ve argued, like a cat catching its own tail, in some round and round way, that all this maintenance is worthwhile. Time for a cup of coffee while sitting in the sun – just to maintain my enjoyment of life!