When I first started this newsletter, I'd said I'd try it for a fortnight—the length of a self-quarantine—and go from there. We are now approaching the end of our second week, and I know I have at least one more week in me. As with many things right now, I'll keep playing it by ear. —Jack
Today’s challenge: Perform an act of maintenance.
Maintenance is a burden—or that’s how it’s typically seen. Some choose to rent or lease, instead of own, so that they do not have to maintain. In the broader consumer culture, it’s more exciting to discard, and replace with something new, than to repair something worn. Time spent fixing could be spent, so you’re told, enjoying instead.
Maintenance is an unsexy act—the kind that falls to the wayside during crisis. Each individual thing might not seem like much: A small hole in the heel of a sock, in need of darning. A finger-oiled laptop screen, in need of cleaning. An overgrown set of nails, in need of clipping. But left unattended, these calls for maintenance compound, seep into other areas of life, lead to a sense that everything around you is broken or breaking.
Remember: Worn is not necessarily worn out. As with romantic relationships, the small, unsexy, everyday acts make for a stronger foundation. Taking care of things in your environment can be practice for taking care of yourself. Can be practice for taking care of others. To mend what is broken in the world, it helps to know, intimately, the act of mending.
Maintenance isn’t limited to repair. It also includes prevention. You tend to what is not yet broken in order to extend life, bolster health. To get ahead of broken-ness, and injury. Through maintenance you take responsibility, for what you’ve brought into your life, and for the life you share with others. You plant yourself in your physical space, your physical community, and become its steward. You become the main tenant of your own life and experience.