Leave It Better Than When You Found It

When I was around fifteen I began watching some late night television. I bought a TV with some money I scrounged up and the only interesting stuff on broadcast TV was the late night stuff.

There was an episode of Jay Leno’s show wherein he was speaking with an old couple who had set the record for most wedding anniversaries, or something like this. He asked them what the key to their success was. The old man chimed in that the key was to “leave a room better than you found it.” This struck me as particularly interesting and I set about practicing it. To this day, leaving something better than I found it is a priority of mine.

A few years ago I bought a little fixer upper house in the middle of nowhere New Hampshire. Some of you may remember the photos of my progress in fixing up the weather-worn shop. I did sell the place at a loss but the lessons I learned in relying completely on myself to get a job done were invaluable. I changed into a considerably more self-reliable person from that time in New Hampshire. All of this came out of the fact that it more or less drove me nuts to see a nice shop falling apart due to weathering. I toured the place, like it, and fixated on the shop. I knew I could fix it and I did.

I am a big fan of general upkeep and tidying. This applies to all things, whether it’s regular exercise, home improvement, touching base with people and being useful to them, or updating knowledge bases. I like to see general improvement. I like to feel “solid”, as often as circumstances permit. I have written some about how confidence flows out of competence, in books here and there.

I believe this ethos helps make the world go round. If we did not live in a world financial order where debt could be conjured out of thin air, people would have to focus on building upon what already is. The way things were a hundred years ago would not be seen as some crazy ideology but rather a set of circumstances that needed articulation and improvement, according to philosophical standards. War eradicates all that. Government dependency does, too. We could be in flying cars already but instead some made-up up social malignancy has to be tended by phony billionaires who believe buildings shouldn’t have windows.

Caretaking is a profound role that needs to come back into the world. There’s no need to rewrite the wheel. Marriage doesn’t need a “reinvention” in order to last. It requires tender loving upkeep from a conscientious soul.