What happens to a home when it is not properly maintained? After a while, things tend to start falling apart, don’t they?
Most of us take care of our homes. We take pride in them and want them to last. We care about how they look. And we certainly care about resale value.
Some may be upside down financially or may simply be moving on to a new neighborhood and don’t want to incur further expense. Those homes usually deteriorate rapidly.
Now let’s use our imaginations a bit. Suppose you had your perfect dream home, whatever that looks like to you. Let’s say it is quite substantial, with lots of room inside and out. Even better, imagine it is completely self-sustaining.
Rather than spend money to maintain it, all you really have to do is avoid messing it up. It would last forever.
This amazing dream home also provides for all your needs, including abundant food and fresh water. It self-regulates temperatures so you could live comfortably.
The home is so beautiful and spacious that you share it with all your friends and family. In fact, there’s plenty of room for all. The property is almost boundless, with lovely gardens filled with a wide array of plants and animals.
One day, someone discovers some buried treasure. They immediately have the ability to do things that were unthinkable before.
With almost no limits, temptation takes over. Reckless consumption soon leads to waste, which begins to take a toll on the property. Even worse, others begin looking for and finding their own buried treasure.
Those with the treasure live better than past royalty ever had. Others are left to fend for themselves, benefiting a bit from some of the abundance but increasingly forced to deal with the consequences of disruption. Poverty, illness and stress take an ever-increasing toll.
The buried treasure has all sorts of consequences. More people use more things and make even more people who use even more things. The grounds rapidly become more crowded than ever.
Not everyone takes part in the excess but they are increasingly marginalized and ignored. Soon the people living in the dream home become divided.
The “haves” seem to always want more and are never satisfied. They live in small sections of the property, using their inordinate wealth to keep things beautiful and pleasant.
They venture forth in search of more treasure but always return to the security of their exclusive digs. If they can gain personal benefit by dismantling parts of the home, they do it with abandon and no concern for the effects it has on others.
The “have-nots” scramble to survive, helplessly watching the mindless destruction. Many are kept sufficiently distracted.
Soon the beautiful grounds are almost completely dug up, the treasures exhumed, and spent faster than you can say “Woo hoo, I’m rich!” The home that once provided for everyone’s needs is degraded beyond redemption.
More of the wealth from those buried treasures is needed just to keep it from falling apart completely. Unfortunately, there is less and less money available, since the once abundant treasure had been squandered on mostly frivolous things that comprised the “economy.”
The dream home was indifferent to the financial abstractions of its residents. Meanwhile costs kept rising out of control.
Eventually you realize you, too, are completely upside down and that your dream home had passed a tipping point. It is now unrepairable. It’s too expensive to fix and becoming uninhabitable.
Things have gone too far, despite those who still insist that everything is fine. They are also the ones intent on digging up the last vestiges of buried treasure to greedily line their own pockets. They have rigged the system to make it “legal” while electing themselves to roles of “leadership.”
If this were a real home you could move and start over somewhere else. You could look around for someplace less affected, where things have not deteriorated so much.
But this dream home is one of a kind. There is no other home in the neighborhood, or anywhere else for that matter. Moving is not an option.
Has the final chapter of this story already been written? Home maintenance is very important. It is what we do when we live as if we intend to stay.
Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. For more information and links to additional resources relating to this column, or to reach Rypka, visit www.greendream.biz.