Zen and the Art of (Life)Cycle Maintenance

Zen and the Art of (Life)Cycle Maintenance

I hold this truth to be self-evident –
Everybody is high maintenance to somebody.
And nobody is ‘no’ maintenance.

No matter how ‘low maintenance’ you believe yourself to be, you are likely – right now – irritating the living daylights out of someone in your life. Getting on some friend or family member’s nerves this very moment, through no fault of your own.
Just by being who you are.

Someone at your office probably thinks it’s hard work to work with you.  In fact, you might be their ‘spiritual work’ – the bulk of their therapy sessions.  Causing them more sleepless nights than you would ever dream.
A soul who deeply craves structure might be incredibly high maintenance to a person who thrives in uncharted territories and open-ended possibilities. And vice versa.
A person who could eat the exact same lunch everyday for decades would be low maintenance – ‘no’ maintenance – to many.
But quite high maintenance to a person for whom variety is the spice of life.
In my experience, we all have deep needs and preferences that someone in our lives is struggling mightily to accommodate. Just trying to coexist in these pairings is often a struggle requiring a whole lot of effort – on both ends. However, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is often profound growth.

So – who is high maintenance for me?
My sister.
And it makes no sense, really. Two very complementary earth elements whose sun, moon, and rising signs are all trines. Which is to say our essences work and play very easily together. On the surface, we actually get along very well.
Never an argument. Rarely, if ever, any friction.
Except that time in 1992, when she ran into my room and unplugged my Sega Genesis – bringing a sudden end to the first, last, and only time I’d ever reached the 5th level of Sonic the Hedgehog (I’m not bitter about that, by the way).

In 30 years, my sister and I have never really had a fight.
But we’ve also never really taken flight. Our interactions don’t really go anywhere – from my vantage point.
They are so easy that they’re difficult for me.
I am a soul who craves deep, gut-level, soulful exchanges from which both people emerge stirred, transformed, and expanded.
I am infinitely curious, probably to my detriment.

My sister would rather pound sand than dig into these deep-dives. She is very good at small talk – at the lighter, more benign encounters that charm so many (the kind that make me want to pound sand).
She is one of those ‘it is what it is’ souls – not naturally curious. Not a philosophical bone in her body, as far as I can tell.
We are both capable of having long conversations – just not with each other. She and our mother can talk for hours. I can talk to our mother for hours. But historically, my sister and I’s attempts at long-form dialogues together have been brutal. Way too intense for her – not intense enough for me. Neither temperament is better or worse.
Just high maintenance, both ways.
At least – this was how our convos used to go.

And then – my son Tobias was born.
And suddenly, we had something to talk about. Something transcendent in common. She was genuinely excited to be an aunt – and a babysitter. And to be my sister. And Sarah’s sister-in-law. And vice versa.
Not that we all hadn’t wanted to be close before – we just struggled to connect. It was hard work, both ways.
For all the work involved in raising Tobias, he has managed to make my sister and I’s relationship much less work.
We’re seeing each other more than ever now (physically and metaphysically)  – and voluntarily, no less. She drives from Dover to Silver Spring regularly to babysit – and really, just to hang out. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
It’s actually fun.

Are we unlocking the deepest secrets of the known universe?
Nope.  But we are growing closer. Fonder.
Will my sister and I’s reclaimed rhythm continue on for years and years to come?
I’m hopeful. And joyful.

And I’m mindful – that everybody is high maintenance to somebody.
And nobody is ‘no’ maintenance.
(Don’t let anybody tell you differently).

Warmly,
Anthony

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