The $12 Vacuum

Many a car’s mechanical problems can be related to how often you change the engine oil. The more often you change it the cleaner, the saying goes, it runs. Also it means the mechanic is rooting around under your hood to see or hear if something is wrong. Which not coincidentally generates more business for the garage. If in fact he finds something wrong then you are doing preventative maintenance which is almost always cheaper than repairs. Not only with cars but just about everything else.

Photo by Lukas ter Poorten on Unsplash

Take our vacuum for example. We bought it second hand because my wife’s experience is that you spend a $150 or usually more on a new vacuum and more likely than not it is giving you headaches within 6 months. Funny when I was growing up we had an emerald green Electrolux whose design was inspired by one of the characters in the canteen from the movie Star Wars. The thing lasted easily 15 years. Suction wasn’t great those last few years. That was still in the day of the vacuum bag that filled up and you had to toss. I think the whole thing was designed around selling vacuum bags because they weren’t very big and it was pretty awkward to empty them out and try and re-use.

Now our vacuum looks like son of Electrolux: turquoise with a mini body for the dirt receptacle. Nowadays we just empty out the dirt receptacle and keep going. And that is what the people who dropped it off at the donation centre where we bought it must have done because I fired it up and the smell as atrocious. A warm, old shoe bad smell filled our condo. Neither the previous guys nor the donation centre thought to clean the filter. Nor did I when I bought it:) So the filter got cleaned and boom the vacuum is awesome and is running to this day. I think it cost $12. No bags. No fuss.

I have seen the same thing happen with our sink, the fan above the stove, the drain in the shower: you have to clean out the filter to keep things running smoothly (and without a nasty smell.). The same applies to people. I remember in my early working days I didn’t have much money so I didn’t eat well. It didn’t help that I was single, living on my own with limited cooking experience. My home cooked food consisted of lots of toast and canned soup for dinner. Breakfast was a coffee and donut. Lunch would have included the occasional veggie. Whadaya know? I ended up in the clinic with an obstructed bowel. It was painful. Just knocked me out for a few days with no energy. No other symptoms. The doctor said I needed fibre which translates into leafy greens and colourful fruit. In other words I needed to unclog the drain or change the oil. I needed to clean my filter. Physically.

That has happened to me mentally as well. Where I need to learn a new concept about someone or something. As our two daughters get older I need to understand that I am not their only source of info and entertainment or decision making. I must realize they are moving through stages in life rapidly and I have to update myself at the same pace or risk making myself obsolete. It doesn’t mean letting them do everything they want and talking about every single meme they find on their phone. It just means be agile with my role as their dad.

With my wife I need to listen to her ever changing situation with menopause. I need to be confident in our connection and lovingly efficient in grasping where we are today. It’s not boring. I prefer it to a habitual life that is not challenging. I am not going to hold menopause against my wife – that would be stupid. There is no time or space to be acrimonious. I prefer to love and be loved. Loving the menopausal version of my wife means I need to have a good memory, want her to be healthy, be able to ride the roller coaster again and again without getting off. Woohoo!! Just be there for her. I am tall enough to ride that ride:)

I see it comes to updating what I want and what I believe. I want my wife to be happy. I believe our marriage is working. Some days it works like a Tesla model X – fast and curious. Other days it’s like a 1973 Westphalia camper van – lots of baggage and going pretty slow.

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Even Telsas have filters that need maintenance.

I find if I clean up the filter, be it the backlog of things my wife has asked me to do (throw out my good boxes cardboard goes I have piled up) or not to do (fall asleep on the couch) we do pretty well. Being in good physical shape and having some sense of your soul are other self tasks to keep things turning over.

When was the last time you cleaned your filter?

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