I jumped in the car yesterday, ready to run off to collect the kids from school and taxi them around to their various social engagements with a secret agenda to perhaps do a little shopping for dinner along the way.
The car wouldn’t start.
I sat for a moment as the idea of being late played out in my head like a bad episode of a TV soap. Dance lessons would be missed, after school games forfeited, homework abandoned and my children would go hungry. The day would end in copious tears.
As the car heated up in the hot afternoon sun and the beads of sweat began to drip down my forehead and spine I contemplated the reasons why I hadn’t taken the car for its routine service. They were all justifiable, other bills that needed to be paid, finding a time that was convenient to go without transport, the constant demands of work and parenting. None were as rational as not actually having the car running in good order. My mind moved to wondering why I was so calm in the face of the immediate chaos and I realised that while I had been neglecting the car lately I hadn’t been neglecting my mind.
Just like a car, house or any form of construction, the human mind and body require maintenance. You wouldn’t buy a new car without the expectation that it required looking after. If you decide not to look after it, well the expectation that it will at some point breakdown, as in my case, will certainly be met. You also wouldn’t get on an airplane that was not subject to a stringent routine of servicing and repair. The human mind is no different, it is just as subject to entropy as physical objects.
Our greatest weapon against entropy is maintenance. We can make things work better and last longer if we look after them. It’s safer and much nicer to drive around in a well maintained car, and certainly safer to be in a well looked after aircraft. As your mind and body are what you use to travel through this world practicing routine mindful maintenance can vastly improve your user experience of this very precious existence you find yourself in.
I turned the key again and the car started. Chaos for the moment was averted. There would be no tears before bedtime but there would be more maintenance.