Zen and the Art of Home Maintenance

Clerk:  Good morning sir! Welcome to Home Depot, is there something I can help you find today?

Me:  Yes, I’m looking for the Zen.

Clerk:  Excuse me?

Me:  The Zen.  Can you tell me where I can find the Zen.

Clerk:  I’m sorry sir, I don’t understand what you are asking, is that like a brand of something?

Me:  No… not a brand… Zen… like in the book…

Clerk:  Uhhhh… the book?

Me:  Yes, the  book… “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”… have you read it?

Clerk:  No sir, I’m only 20, I’ve never heard of that book.

Me:  Oh… well, I haven’t read it all either…  I tried reading it five or six times when I was your age, but could never finish it. It was very complicated. Anyhow, from what I remember, the main character was always able to fix his motorcycle and keep everything in tip-top shape, while his friend’s motorcycle was always breaking down.

Clerk:  Okay… uhhh… so what does that have to do with what brought you in here today?

Me:  Well… everything is breaking.

Clerk:  What do you mean, everything is breaking?

Me:  At my house, everything is breaking. I have this list of things that have broken and need to be fixed, but I just can’t seem to get to all of it anymore.  I used to think it was fun to fix things, but now it’s just not interesting anymore.  Here… look at this list… there’s like fifty things on this list… dishwasher, bedroom screens, window cranks, electrical sockets, storm door window, lawn mower, security light, barn door handle, downstairs shower…

Clerk:  interrupts  Yeah, yeah, okay, I get it…

Me: I was hoping I could find some Zen and that might help me… you know… get everything fixed back up.

Clerk:  Yeah… okay… uhhhh… let me get my manager, maybe he can help.

A few minutes later

Manager: Hello sir! Welcome to Home Depot, how can I help you today?

Me: Well, everything at my house is breaking and I can’t seem to get it all fixed… so I’m looking for the Zen.

Manager: I’m sorry sir, what is the Zen?

Me:  Zen… like in the book…

Manager:  Uhhhh… the book?

Me:  Yes, the  book… “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”… have you read it?

Manager: Ohhhh, I see….. yes, I have read it… you know, sir… it doesn’t really have much to do with Zen… or motorcycle maintenance… or even maintenance in general. It is really an essay on the subject of quality and how quality is the source of our perception of things… you know, rightness and wrongness… it’s about thinking dualistically, separating mind from matter… and how when we have feelings of uncertainty… well, that is the very thing that we should engage, in order to learn more about truth and about ourselves.  You sound like someone who enjoys your home romantically, right? What I mean by that is… you enjoy the experience you feel when you’re in the home or out in the yard, the feeling you get when the wind is whistling through the windows or a soft snowfall is falling outside and a warm fire is crackling in your fireplace. On the other hand, some people enjoy their home classically, they understand and are compelled by the structure of it and all its working parts, how the rooms flow together in a seamless workable format. This was addressed in the book…  see the main character was always focused classically on his motorcycle, the mechanics of it and keeping it well maintained, while his friends were only focused on the romantic part of the journey, the wind in their hair, the picturesque scenery. You see, a person with a classical understanding sees the world and it’s underlying structure, while a person with a romantic understanding sees only the outside appearance, the instant gratification. This is all covered in the book… of course, that endless search for quality is what drove the main character in sane… that’s sort of the premise of the story… what leads him on their bike trip in the first place.  So I don’t think it’s Zen you are after… I think you just need to find that balance between a classical definition of your inner existence and psyche and a romantic definition… and in doing so, attempt to bridge the gap between humanity and science and resolve the metaphysical definition of quality… does that make sense?

Me:  Uhhh… no, not really… so you don’t have Zen?

Manager:  No I’m sorry sir, we don’t have Zen… is there anything else I can help you with?

Me:  Can you tell me where I can find the duct tape?

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Zen and the Art of Home Maintenance

  1. bigsheepcommunications

    Home Depot now does therapy? Is that covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield? Do I need an appointment? Do I sound a little desperate?

  2. Great post! Thank you for sharing!

    … following your blog …

    – Oh God, My Wife Is German.

  3. Richard Wiseman

    There is always of course the alternative text – ‘Jesus and the art of living somewhere you don’t own.’ My wife and I used to own a home, well the bank owned varying amounts of it over time, but we fixed it and spent money making it nice… then bankruptcy came along and we had to rent a place like we did when we first got together. Now this rankled a bit at first; we had gone down the property ladder to the bottom, but after a year in which we had to call the rental people to get them to come and fix stuff I began to see that it was actually quite good renting. Then I realised that the only other differences between renting and a mortgage was that I didn’t pay interest and I wouldn’t own the place in 25 years time. I had a revelation about how stupid it was for people to think that when they got a mortgage they were the home owners. Yeah sure they’ll own the house, when they retire. That’s a working life spent paying for a house! It’s then that I realized about Jesus saying that ‘The Son Of Man has no place to rest his head.’ Jesus was homeless and lived in other people’s houses. It dawned on me that no-one owns a house, it owns them. No-one owns land, it owns them. Talking in Bhuddist terms you are a servant of your house. You live to serve the house! Bhudda and Jesus had the same idea. Anything we own or gather in life, pets, possessions, land, money, become a burden, a responsibility; Now that’s Zen.

  4. Perfect! I think duct tape can fix everything on that list! Or at least tape that manager’s mouth shut!

  5. celticadlx

    I love duct tape. I agree with Richard, the illusion of owning a home is just that, but you know what? I love my home as well and spend too much time at Lowe’s (sorry, only do Home Depot when they don’t have what I need at Lowe’s!). Somehow every time I go to Lowe’s even after all these years, it still feels like Christmas in July. A home is a work in progress at all times, a project. Being a writer, maybe that’s why I like it.

  6. My husband says you really only need two things in the tool box – WD-40 to make things go, and Duct Tape to make them stop.

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