My broken windows are a pile of laundry not put away, a sink full of dishes, an inbox that overflows its window, and a home-office desk with piles on it.
They’re the little things that turn into the big things. They’re the signifiers that all is not well. They’re the symptoms of an underlying illness.
It seems that my broken windows are overflows. Often. But they’re other things as well.
A gym I haven’t been to in a week. Or longer. A friend I haven’t caught up with in weeks. Or longer. A chore I’ve put off for a month. Or longer.
Overflows and postponements. My broken windows are inaction. Aren’t everyone’s? The relationship unfixed, the health unmended, the goals ignored.
But sometimes I treat broken windows as if they’re collapsed buildings. That isn’t much better than continuing to ignore them. Convinced they signal imminent depravity, convinced that the significance is heart-stopping, convinced that each broken window is one more proof of my total ineptitude.
At what? Everything. Life, people, work, relationships, the physical world, everything but breathing and even that if you start to think about how long it’s been since I meditated.
The proper solution, of course, the grown-up one, is turtle steps. Tiny small progressions of good. You don’t raze the house, and neither do you move away. You clean up one broken pane today, and another one tomorrow, and eventually you notice the difference.
Some days, of course, it’s easier than others to brush up the shards of glass. Perhaps it’s a matter of coming to terms with the idea that windows will always break – that it’s not a sign of anything other than time. And being here for the passage of time? That’s not a bad thing at all.