Sunday, May 18, 2014

Do You Create or Maintain?

As I watched a woman in a well-to-do neighborhood open the door to her housekeeper and child at 8 a.m. on Friday morning, I mused, wouldn't we all prefer to be the one living in that house rather than coming to clean it? Perhaps. Yet Nature herself continually creates, maintains and destroys; that's the essence of the life cycle.

While I think of myself as primarily a creator, the world needs daily maintenance — not least because of the mess we bipeds tend to leave behind. I wipe down sinks in public restrooms and often have to clean off outdoor tables before I can sit to eat at places like Whole Foods; even the staff can't keep up with the detritus.

Daily life is one of maintenance, renewal. Poet and novelist Marge Piercy writes,

            "The work of the world is common as mud.
            Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
            But the thing worth doing well done
            has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident."

(excerpted from To Be of Use, © 1982)
Yet I find myself disdaining some whose work entails tidying up the universe rather than contributing something fresh. The maintenance manager at a local community center seems comically addicted to keeping the exterior doors locked and "undesirables" (read: homeless people) out. When I've sat inside to use their high-speed WiFi, I witness him check and lock the doors at least a half dozen times within a few hours. It seems almost a pointless exercise, because people stream into the center for classes, meetings and other events all day long.

Directly across the outdoor quad from the community center is a new senior wing. It's ADA compliant in every way — except the architects didn't take into account seniors' diminished upper body strength and agility. Several women have become trapped in the restrooms, whose heavy oak doors are almost impossible for someone using a walker or wheelchair to negotiate. So the community center's counterpart now has the additional responsibility of constantly making sure all eight restroom doors (two for each gender, at opposite sides of a long corridor in a 2-story building) remain stoppered open each weekday from 9 to 5. There's a poetry to this, and a bit of Divine humor as well.

Years ago, metaphysical teacher and author Louise Hay made many tapes accompanied by the musical group Alliance. One I listened to repeatedly was, "Doors Closing, Doors Opening," and while it focused on personal growth rather than physical structures, I find it amusingly applicable to the situations I've described. The main lyric went, "Doors closing, doors opening, doors closing, doors I'm opening. I am safe, it's only change. I am safe it's only change…"

Are you opening doors or closing them? Do you create or maintain? Does your life weave between the two, and if so, are you growing in ways that feed your soul? Mother Nature is always in motion. It's important to clean up our mess and keep the doors to possibility open. And maybe, unlocking what seems a necessary barrier will let in some surprising gifts that may change your perception and release a fresh flow of creativity.

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