“Everything Needs Maintenance”
8 September 2005
When I graduated from college in 1969, I went to work for a defense contractor making a special purpose computer system, which was to fly in Air Force jet aircraft. Really not prepared for the job I was given of computer logic design, whenever I got had a problem, I would go to a coworker named Dick Parks.
Now Dick was this gentle giant of a man standing 6 foot 4 inches or so and with this long, shaggy beard. Anyway, besides being a very good computer logic designer, Dick also was an actor in various locally produced plays as well as playing trombone in a local jazz band but perhaps most important of all to me was that Dick was an amateur philosopher and was always giving me some deep insight into something or another. But one day, really out of the blue, he turned to me and said, “You know, everything needs maintenance.” And that statement hit me like a tone of bricks because it rang so true at the time and still does today with me.
“Everything needs maintenance.” A simple enough statement but try to wrap your mind around it fully and you will see it is really not as simple as it seems. Of course you know that your car needs maintenance, houses have to be repainted, gutters cleaned out, on and on but “Everything needs maintenance” also can and does apply to your health, your mind, your spirituality and relationships you have with others.
Sometimes, I think “Everything needs maintenance” hit me a little too hard, as it seems like I spend a significant portion of each and every day, doing some form of maintenance. All I have to do is look around and see something, which needs my attention and some maintenance, for example the yard around my home. Yards are one big maintenance all the time. But perhaps the most important maintenance we can and should do is with others. “Maintenance” sounds like such a harsh or mechanical or something wrong word for maintaining relationships but it is basically what must be done and the key here is attention and communications.
A rose bush in my yard will not survive for long if I do not water it and protect it from insects and various plant diseases. The same is true of relationships. How can one expect for a relationship with another to be healthy without communications and real, honest, attention to the needs of the other person or group for that matter?
Marriage is a real example of “Everything needs maintenance”. Seems to me that a lot of couples get married and then think living together is all that is required for their relationship to remain strong but I do not think that is true. Only if both parties consider the other person as someone who needs maintenance, caring, affection and actually provides it will the relationship last.
Because of the demands of modern life, maintenance can often become a stepchild to other desires of wants. For example, who really enjoys spending money on the replacement of a roof? You had a roof on your home before the replacement and so what did you get for your money you did not already have? Nothing.
In relationships, it is easy to think that the vows of marriage are like a roof which never wears out and which does not have to be looked at or inspected now again for signs of wear and potential replacement. Now I do not mean replacement here in the sense of a new relationship partner but rather, some shift in our daily interchange with our marriage partner.
Just like the rose in my garden, if I do not water my partner with affection and interest, why should I expect he or she to bloom for me and give anything back in return?
“Everything needs maintenance.”
Had a college professor once who had this sign up behind his desk in his small office which read “Remember you have a tendency to intimidate” which was a reminder to himself not to be so hard on students when they came to him for advice. I think that making yourself a sign, which reads, “Everything needs maintenance” would be a worthwhile endeavor until the concept has time to fully work its way into your consciousness.
“Everything needs maintenance” ought be one of your basis life principles and remember it always.
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