Tuesday, January 28, 2014

life maintenance

Life maintenance is a catch-all term I use for the day-to-day tasks required to simply make it through the day in a reasonably comfortable manner. This is most assuredly a first-world problem sort of term since what I consider to be life maintenance is what much of the world might view as survival. I'm talking about cooking, eating, hygiene chores (shower, shave, laundry, dishes, etc), grocery shopping, and those sorts of routine tasks you do on a regular basis that are important but not necessarily interesting. (Yes, if you're really into what you eat, then food is important, but if it is simply a means to an end for sustenance, then it becomes a maintenance task.) While I view many of these as a minor annoyance, I have no doubt that many people would be thrilled to have these sorts of tasks as easily as accessible as I have them. Even less frequent but still ostensibly routine things like seeing the doctor or dentist fall under the category of life maintenance. I would argue that very few people are eager to go to the dentist, but most would recognize the importance of going and why it is something worth putting up with.

Life maintenance feels like a waste of time while it most certainly is not a waste of time. If I don't eat and bathe, then I'm probably going to run into some problems. It's not that I don't understand why these things are important, it's that they feel inefficient, as if there ought to be some way to speed things up. And this is part of what I have tried by living relatively simply. I don't spend much time cooking (and thus have minimal dishes to wash) by having simple or small meals. Not owning a car certainly cuts many life (and auto) maintenance tasks from my to-do list. And it's not like I suck at these things either. While I am no master chef, I am certainly capable of looking after myself and am reasonably sure that I do so at an above-average level, though I guess the average depends on the pool of people being considered. Regardless, it's not like I have some deep inability to operate a vacuum or washing machine or shave competently. To borrow a quote from Office Space, "It's not that I'm lazy, it's just that I don't care" and that best captures the essence of the problem. Well, assuming there's a problem. It's as if my approach is fundamentally wrong. All of these tasks have the potential to be fun and even challenging with the right outlook. And yet there are so many more interesting things to do.

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