Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Zen and the Art of Home Repair

--Once, I saw many a book with variations of this blog post's title.  There's the most famous, of course, Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I once had a book called Zen and the Art of Archery, which wasn't really about archery, just as Pirsig's book is only partly about motorcycle maintenance.  My spouse had a book about Zen and martial arts.

--Has anyone written a Zen and the Art of Home Repair?  Or The Spirituality of Home Repair?  If not, someone should.

--Yes, perhaps it should be me.  I have so many possible projects to write.  I will need to live to be 120, with every year a productive writing year, to write the books that I can already picture in my head.  That's if I have no more ideas between now and then.

--So, if you want to steal my idea, feel free.  You'd likely write a different book than mine anyway.

--My book would wrestle with the existential questions prompted by a trip to Home Depot--or by numerous trips.  Why do plumbing parts so rarely work with the first attempt?  Why are there so many different finishes in faucets--except for the one you need?  If so many other tools and pieces of equipment can be made in a cordless version, why not a cordless vacuum?

--Once my spouse and I did more home repair projects together.  We bought our first 2 houses through the VA repo program.   Those houses needed work.  One of them needed serious work--although it did have a new roof.

--In our younger years, we did not work well together.  I blame PBS.  Shows like Hometime and This Old House make it look so easy.  No one loses their patience on those shows.  You never see the wasted materials that have been cut wrong or that haven't worked like they should.  The equipment and tools always work perfectly on those shows.

--Now that we are older, it's oddly easier in some ways.  If we're not communicating clearly, we realize it more quickly.  We sigh with exasperation and frame the question or request in a different way.  We apologize more speedily.

--Love means always having to say you're sorry.  So does home repair.

--Now we need reading glasses to see the measurements, to read the instructions, to see the way the parts are connecting or aren't.  I've gotten used to needing reading glasses for household tasks like reading or paying bills.  But home repair?  Really?

--I am stronger than I was as a young woman.  Would our earlier adventures in home repair have gone any more easily if I had had more strength?  No matter.  The past is the past.

--But those of us in long-term relationships know that the past is never really passed (was it Faulkner who said a variation of that sentence?).  My book on home repair and spirituality would include a chapter on how home repair teaches us forgiveness.

--Yes, I should start making notes.  I'm kind of liking this idea.  I see several chapters already:  adjusting expectations and accepting people/houses/materials where they are, why the quest for the perfect paint color will ultimately leave you empty and thirsting for something else, why the work is never really finished, how it helps to have a team of friends, on and on I could go.  Maybe I will . . .

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