Monday, July 25, 2011


Nail is a constructive four letter word.

This weekend my house was falling down.

Well, just one tiny part of it.  Part of the ceiling on my front porch came down, exposing the older ceiling of the porch that was underneath it.  I called my father for assistance in repairing it, and together we restored the wood panel to its place and secured it.  It took a few hours, wore me out, and put a damper on some other plans I had around the house yesterday, but by the end of the day I felt good for having done it.

Why?  Well, for starters, I have a pretty deep sense of responsibility for trying to maintain the space I live in. On more mundane weekends, this might be something as simple as trimming the hedges or mowing the lawn or trying to clean out my office.  Thinking grander, it means trying to do what I can about the environment or helping out in my community.  There is a pretty wide range of activities in between, but important in all of them is that we need to be active to maintain things.  When left to themselves, entropy will set in, and things will... well... fall down.  It takes effort to keep things together, and even more effort to restore them if problems develop.

It is not always easy.  Sometimes, we don't see the problems on the surface - in the case of my ceiling, it was the older ceiling that was showing problems and that caused the new paneling to fall.  If we don't know what we're doing, sometimes we will make mistakes - but mistakes are not failure... they just mean that we need to fix the mistake we made and keep moving.  Sometimes the fix is only temporary, and we are trying to keep things together until we have the resources to do it right - I very much fear this is the situation with my ceiling.

Far too often we don't know what to do about the problems, or don't have the resources to fix the problems, and in these cases it can become easy to let the entropy start to take hold... and hope that, eventually, we can marshal the resources to fix things or find a solution that works.  There is probably nothing more tragic, however, than to see something that has fallen so far into disrepair that the only conclusion one can come to is to tear it down and, hopefully, start over.  As hopeful as we may be about starting over - it is always a shame that we must (and starting over is, itself, difficult!).

Home maintenance, repair, and improvement are work, make no mistake about it.  But what is better than working on the place you live?

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