Maintenance – The Thankless Process

In towns and cities, there is a constant need of maintenance of infrastructure as well as policy. Things wear down, break down and change as the world around changes.

To picture a place that has gone unmaintained is typically picturing it in such disrepair that we’ve already concluded that it isn’t worth fixing.

What does this illustrate about our default rationality?

That we are prone to renouncing what is difficult to fix.

Thankfully, incentives in cities help limit this from happening. But these are mostly monetary incentives and come with little gratitude. Without the payoff not many would do it, especially if the person’s circle of concern is quite small, as it often is.

Incentive drives expectations, infiltrates our motivations by tying them to a measurable outcome (money to pay for and buy things we need) and the subsequent reality of the environment.

But the Self is not a city. Limited by our thinking are our incentives in hardship, which often means not worth the trouble, which is a decision made by us persons that will shape the internal and external environments we live in.

This reflects a flaw within us persons.

True there are things that cannot be fixed, but they are rare and often have conditions difficult to replicate en masse.

More often than not we reach conclusions of permanent disrepair from personal experiences within ourselves that have contaminated what we believe to be possible.

We give up maintaining, fixing and changing things within: thinking them impossible or that our efforts will be in vein, so we shape our worlds this way. We leave messes uncleaned, books unread, people distant.

And the longer we do this, the more things break and wear out. Eventually there is so much disfunction we no longer have a livable environment: it’s only misery and disaster.

Managing this means do not be so quick to judge the disrepair you find within. It’s a matter of finding the incentive to face it, fix it, and most importantly to do it all without praise. Other people won’t thank you for fixing you. But your environment will be better nonetheless.

Isn’t that worth thanklessness?

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