Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Preventative. High Maintenace

Last night, I got my first dedicated car since 2001. This car has survived 185,000 miles without engine overhaul, and I expect it can easily go another 100,000.

Thinking about the used car, the relationship metaphors of High Maintenance and Preventative Maintenance came to mind. My thoughts were already dominated by some short-term friendship issues and lingering romantic interest. In reality, no matter what, I consider a relatioship a labor of love... which, gasp, requires labor.

I have owned several airooled VW engines, such as those used in the Volkswagen Beetle 1938-1979. Owning one and driving a car as old as Seattle, I learned all about high maintenance. The heater that works off exhaust heat, the Seattle moisture condensation from old rubber seals. On the engine front, only in the final years were hydraulic valves introduced. A poorly tuned hot-running aircooled engine has a way of turning high quality motor oil into black muck in a rather short number of miles.

In personal relationships, I'm probably on the high-maintenance side. My valves can need manual adjustment. A nice greeting and "glad to see you" or "glad to be your friend" will go a long way.

This blog and much of my discussions when I become closer with people is to focus on preventative maintenance. For example, discussing certain somewhat predictable tripping problems and how to avoid them. Further, I focus on trying to accept that conflict is part of life - and can we just make the best of it?

I find that treating people all the same invites them to put on their social mask. I want to know the person, not the mask. Each person I meet in life is unique. Unexpected, Unanticipated. Differing in experience and viewpoint. Even that same person seems subject to change from Monday to Friday, or in some circumstances - hour to hour.

I'm in for the long-term. The total experience. I try to share mine, but realize that mistakes aren't always timely or desired. Preventative maintenance will perhaps help us deal with my rather high maintenance requirements. Some tips and suggestions:

  • I think about people in my life; but I don't always know how and when to communicate it. Each person is different, and I'm probably more expressive than most men. Writing this blog for all to see is somewhat an admittance to this characteristic of myself. Can you help me? Can you understand my inner need to say I'm thinking of you without always making me have to go first?
  • Have an emergency plan for conflict. I encourage gentle repeating that 'we are in this together'. 'Even if today doesn't go the way we planned, let's make sure we end this conflict on a good note'. In a conflict, you can't get the time back - but I believe you can restore the peace. Reach out, together.
  • Bring concerns up that are on your mind... but establish and remind that the main purpose is to share and express. You may need to remind me that you aren't looking to treat all issues as a "problem to solve"... as it can sometimes be my nature to want to help and fix - even if all I should be doing is learning and listening.

Most of all, I'm not suggesting any conflict or lack of effort is your fault. That's too simplistic of a view. It takes two, it's more than just me or you. There is no absolute one-sided cause and effect. We are always learning. Hopefully, with effort, always growing together.

Not my best writing today, that's part of me too.


  1. Speaking of reaching out.....I just wish that I could reach out and hug you! You say high maintainence but I do not interprete you as being that way at all. You seem so easy going and laid back so easy to understand and to love. Lovable is what you are just as my treasured and reliable Volvo that is safe and has stood the test of time. I have had VW's but did not find them lovable just a pain in the ass, constantly breaking down. But the Volvos have always been true blue and gone for far more than 100,000. miles without major problems. I hope you don't mind the comparison but it is a compliment.

    Sorry, I haven't written much lately but it doesn't mean that I haven't thought about you!

  2. Hi Lora,

    I am not easy-going if repeatedly stressed. At heart, I tend to be a problem-solver. I tend to desire "many eggs in few baskets" with people...

    I am independent and not afraid of the world... but my preference is to interact with less people on a more deep basis. This is me.

    Working together is not something I consider optional. These days, people seem so focused on measured accomplishment (income, cars, places visited, count of friends)... I feel out of place. And I'm declaring that I'm going to seem at odds. People often relate to me based on where I've been and who I know - where I tend to let it all mesh and blur into the experience of living.

    In a long-term relationship, where does one conflict end and another begin? Reversing that, every avoided or resolved conflict is an expression of love. To me it all begins and ends together... and lingering conflict is a failure of together.

    I see society continuing to move away from this unity view. There is a general attitude that failure is inevitable. That trading partners is the key - that one is "lucky" to find someone who is perfectly matched so that there is minimal conflict. This seems like nonsense to me. Like trying to push life around instead of letting yourself flow down the river.

    Yes, there is chemistry and love. But I'm also interested in relationships for the changes they bring to my life. Understanding, familiarity, spirtual daily diet...

    On the short term, I can become extremely frustrated that can come across as yelling and demanding. I know that relaxing and disarming is the best to go, but frustration doesn't feed this.

    There is a shifing point of accepting myself but also improving myself. I have spent a lot of time improving my own understanding of myself. Perhaps many would consider me a flawed character, I do not. I consider us all unique and cherish connections...

    Connections, to me, are even more complex than individuals. When the focus is long-term - connection is joy in coordination. Beyond words.