maintenance

What I'm realizing is that the hardest part isn't getting to the place you want to be, it is maintaining the state you arrive at when you get there. Something about the eternal cycle of wanting something entirely, and then getting it, and then being hit with the gravity of the now what?



For a long time I believed maintenance was a byproduct of self control. How many grams of protein, how many texts, how many years of wearing my retainer after years of braces (supposedly all my life.) All of these things to maintain the machine. But the problem is sometimes these will fail just by virtue of the fact that life catches you off guard. Every time I feel secure in myself, the stable ground under me dissolves and the cycle begins again. Sometimes maintenance feels like crawling out of and falling right back into the same hole. No, maintenance will never feel easy.



I've written about the Red Queen Effect in a very early issue of Kopi Club before, but I think it's particularly relevant here:



There is a scene in Alice in Wonderland where Alice is running with the Red Queen in a magical forest, but she notices that as she runs the trees seem to be running beside her.



The Red Queen remarks,

“Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Scientists and businessmen took this scene from Lewis Carroll’s book as inspiration for the name ‘Red Queen Effect.’ It is a hypothesis that suggests that in order to maintain, you need to constantly be moving faster than you were yesterday. So we're all like Alice in the forest – bewildered at the amount of effort it takes to stay in the same place.



I'm moving to a new city in the middle of this year, which means I've been reflecting a lot what it means to uproot, to shift, while maintaining some sense of a stable self. Whatever that is. I don't have an answer yet, but if I did, maybe it is that maintenance is a false front and we will never maintain things – we'll just hold on to the late night hours when the party has long ended and we unpile onto the street, or the last stretch of a run where everything is aching and light, or maybe just on to the moments where we felt we were exactly where we needed to be.

Published by Nicole 2 years ago on Monday the 19th of April 2021.

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