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Under Pressure

I appreciate a clean environment.

I’m talking about the greatest scope of that statement, meaning the air we breathe and the preservation of natural landscapes that fuel our souls. But I’m also referring to the smaller spaces we inhabit on a daily basis: our cars, yards, and homes.

The problem is, I don’t like to clean. It creates quite a conundrum. That cause-and-effect relationship falls to pieces when a desired result requires effort that we’re not keen on providing. Sure, we can just hire other people to do it for us. Some do, and that’s okay, but it has never seemed to work out for me.

So, how does one go about overcoming the procrastination associated with doing something we don’t want to do, so that we get the results we desire? Well, in at least one case, it’s thrust upon us as a necessary edict.

The envelope always looks the same and opening the letter from my HOA always induces the same elevated heartbeat and internal thought process: if I’m getting one of these letters, everyone else on the street better be getting one too.

The title at the top of the formal letterhead always reads the same: A Friendly Reminder. At least they try to convey a sense of compassion and understanding before delving into the legalese and ordinance numbers I've violated as a community member.

I walk out to the front curb and look at the sidewalk. It’s not that bad. I try to convince myself that the mildew and rust deposits from our sprinkler heads have not accumulated over time. Comparing our stretch of common ground with our neighbors, there isn’t that big of a difference. But as I perform the mental math in my head, I realize it’s been six months since the pressure washer has been hibernating in the garage.

With fourteen days to resolve the issue, I plan an afternoon date with copious amounts of high-pressure water and intense vibrations through the handle of a machine that comes to life with such volume that the entire neighborhood can hear it.

It took three passes. The first with a circular attachment akin to a floor polisher, removing the initial layers of dirt. The second with a directed spray along the edges while removing any leftover residual. And a final pass with a wide spray to effectively blow away the mess of mud and grime removed during the first two phases of the process.

Each part was necessary for a different reason, and I came away with my legs coated in mud, my back sore, and my sandals soaked into oblivion. But when it was all done, I felt good. I suppose it’s natural to feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction after a well-completed job. So, why did I procrastinate for so long and come up with so many excuses as to why I shouldn’t need to do it?

It wasn’t until I began the process that I realized how much it needed to be done. When those first couple layers of dirt disappeared to reveal a bright white sidewalk beneath it, I literally saw the light. It was a messy process that left me in pain and dirty, but it was worth the results and helped me appreciate that we don’t always see how far off-kilter things have gotten until we take the time to really see them.

Sometimes, it’s only after we’ve applied pressure (and in this case, quite literally) that we see and recognize all that’s been hiding beneath the surface for too long.


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