Maintenance and Growth

There is a dilemma for some of us in trying to get balance in our lives between the regular chores we need to do to keep our status quo going (shopping, cleaning, bathing, cooking, appointments, emails, Facebook) and our desire to work on our dreams (learning a new skill, writing a book, reading poetry, learning to dance).

Let’s call the former “Maintenance” and the later “Growth.”

For me, the maintenance part of life is where I dwell. I was brought up in a family of “doers” and achievement and success was defined by doing things.  My father taught me that there are only two ways of doing a job:  Very well and half-way (he used a more colorful term for the second).

But as life gets busy, the maintenance part of life becomes insatiable. There’s not enough time nor energy to simply keep the status quo.  The routine chores mount up faster than there is life energy to sustain them.  And all the chores seem to be equally very important—flossing, brushing, exercising, laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning, dog walks, doctor visits, dieting, leaking roofs, keeping gas in the car, sending out birthday cards, pulling weeds, car maintenance—the list would require two full time people just to keep things going for one person.

But if you only spend time in maintenance mode, what about your dreams? What about play?  What about pausing to smell the roses?

In contrast to our maintenance time is any time we spend in growth mode. These activities go beyond the routine and are the new experiences – the exploration of our world, your own psyche, and being free from the burden of chores.  Growth mode has an alluring siren’s song for those of us stuck in maintenance mode – it becomes the desire, the yearning, and the illusion of happiness.

But to cling tenaciously to Maintenance or Growth is unsustainable. A complete, congruent life cannot come solely from either mode—but must come from both.

We need to maintain our life, our home, our wards, and all that we’re responsible for. Yet we also need time to experience Growth—for that is what makes life excitingly new and fresh.

The dance of life is between the two, and sometimes (with the right attitude) the two can blend together. As the car fills with gas can be a moment of perceiving all that is going on around you.  Vacuuming the house can be a form of meditation.  The dance of life is not either/or between Maintenance and Growth—it can be a blend.  At least, that‘s what I’ve heard..………may it be so………………Russ