There are different ways of attaining a balanced life.
The best method, of course, would involve striking a daily equilibrium, with three square meals from major food groups, work and repose, exercise and reflection, time with loved ones, dashing off a check for the orphans, and a hearty beverage enjoyed short of the tipping point. Repeat.
For the more obsessive among us, balance tends to be an average calculated over longer periods as we careen between extremes. I live in balance, provided you don't draw conclusions from any particular moment. Or week. Or year.
This is my way of backing into the subject of home maintenance. Those law abiders clucking over Keith Ellison's city inspection notices likely do not live in a century-old house or run around trying to change the world. Or have to decide whether peeling paint on their garage is more important than peeling lead paint in a kid's bedroom.
Although I am an Ellison supporter, I'm not trying to make excuses for him. I'm making excuses for myself. I can see when things are wrong with our house, and over the years we have invested plenty to fix them. But there are still things that get deferred or forgotten. Backs of garages are that way, and corners of basements.
To a man who goes along at half throttle, it may not be hard to pull over and simply fix some small aberration in the domestic order. Whacking weeds is a piquant punctuation to a fine weekend for the man whose idea of baronial bliss is breaking out the LawnBoy and making sharp corners. A man who hates his job may be fully invested in his castle.
But for the man going all out, steeped in thought and seeing the world far beyond the edges of his property lines, a weed is no simple a matter. Righting a board askew might as well be moon shot to the mind that has just come back from immersion in healthcare policy or peak oil.
Earlier this year, I took on the creeping charlie that infested my yard after I stopped paying men with tanker trucks to spray their chemicals. It had survived my attack in the fall, for reasons we won't get into. My plan this time was strategic, and I readied soil and seed to follow the killing assault. Grass would spring up like democracy.
But the creeping charlie did not die on my schedule, and I departed town with labors incomplete, a wheelbarrow full of a soil mixture left under a blue tarp to keep off the rain. By the time I returned, other obligations intervened and led to others. The time never seemed right to reseed. It was too hot and dry or I was too busy or something.
My mind was full of other things and my time followed.
But the blue tarp's reproach never disappeared. Would my neighbors to think all Ellison supporters were alike and that before long my car would be up on cinder blocks in the front yard?
So one day last week, I resolved to clear the delayed project from the corner of the house. How manly and farmer-like finally to stride out from these months of mental labors, seize the wheelbarrow, and fling seeded soil over the bare hungry patches!
My tarp, it turned out, had not entirely kept the rain out of the wheelbarrow. Underneath, I had a muddy soup to contend with. Oh well. I lifted the heavy edge to pour off the collected water.
The splashing sun heated-water was hot on my ankles. Surprisingly hot. HOTHOTHOTHOT!
I dropped the tarp and danced away and the burning persisted.
So many stinging at once, each a molten droplet.
I ran-hopped-slapped away like a crazed Appalachian clogger.
Later, I crept back to see the football-sized nest that had grown under the tarp while I had been preoccupied with matters of the mind and fixed on changing the world.
There's a parable here, no doubt, but you don't need me to draw it. Besides, the Twins are on.