Jim Murray

4 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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Zen & The Art of Pool Maintenance


There are nights, mercifully not every night, when you just can’t shut down your engines. Some nights it’s your mind that’s racing, other nights it’s your body that just won’t get comfortable in a prone position..

For me tonight it’s a little of both, featuring a cramp in my right foot that just won’t go away until I’m too tired to let it keep bothering me. So I have to walk it into submission. But I can’t get back into bed for a while. It’s almost as if I have to keep doing something so that my foot forgets that it’s being ornery tonight and calms down.

So I wander around the empty house. My wife is on some breakneck tour of terrorist dodging in Europe with her BFF, my sister. They are seasoned travelers those two. They need very little in the way of provocation to organize a road trip. For a day, a weekend or a marathon 19 day excursion to Castles ‘R Us.

I don’t travel much any more. I did more than my share back in the day as a photographer. Now I will only go to places where I can bring a good chunk of my stuff and settle in for a week, and hang out by the pool or the lake.

In point of fact we bought the house we bought here in St Catharines because it reminded us of some of the nicer cottages we have rented.

There’s a strangeness about being alone in your house for what has been a full two weeks now, with three more days to go. One of the things I have done is put everything I use on the counters in the bathroom and the kitchen. This is something that would never happen when both of us are here. And the weirdest thing is that I am all for it at that time. But on my own I’m a bit lazy about shit like reaching into drawers to get stuff out or put stuff back.

Another thing I do is eat at odd times, and when my wife is not around I tend to gravitate to meals that are easy to make like burgers and hot dogs and nachos, or meals that can produce leftovers, like Chinese, pizza and pastas.

The nutritional value of this stuff is pretty abysmal. But I rationalize it by pointing out to myself that I am on a holiday as well. A stay-cation of sorts, with pool maintenance and creative work to do.

The Big Zen

Jim Murray

Creative Director

16 Aquadale Drive
St Catharines ON L2N 3R6

P: (289) 687-3475

E: onandup3@gmail.com
W: www.onandup.ca
SK: jimbobmur61

That’s the other thing about living in your dream cottage. Pool maintenance.

The pool pump needs to run for at least 12 hours a day, according to Rob the Pool Guy. Somebody has to turn it on and turn it off.

That same somebody has to make sure that the leaves are skimmed off the surface, otherwise they will decay and sink to the bottom and some of them will stain the pool liner. It’s very unsightly.

Also the filter basket needs to be emptied every day, or else it will over fill and clog, meaning big bucks for repairs.

And of course the pool cover needs to be rolled out every night so the temperature of the water doesn’t get crazy cold, and you don’t have to use a hundred bucks worth of propane to get it back up to a temperature that doesn’t give you frostbite when you get in to do your lengths.

Once you see the algae building up, (And yes, I can see that) you have prepare the shock treatment, dilute it in a bucket, and pour it in so it catches the current of the pool and distributes itself equally.

After 24 hours, you throw in the Pool Shark, an amazing little gizmo that’s kind of like a Roomba for pools. The net result is that you get to look into a crystal clear pool and think...wow, I made that happen.

There aren’t many things in life that have given me the sense of satisfaction than taking care of this pool gives me. I do some of my very best thinking when I am engaged in the myriad of activities that pool maintenance entails.

I was a little concerned about it when we first moved in. It kind of felt like a bit of an albatross. But my sister hipped me to the zen thing. She doesn’t have a pool, but she’s great friends with her next door neighbours who do, and she says she often goes over and does some maintenance, just for the zen.

I thought that was amusing, until we got the pool set up in the early summer and I had to start learning how to do all this stuff. Then I understood.

The Zen Contagion

A few of the people who know me best have told me that my writing has changed since I have moved here, that it’s not as urgent or cynical. And I can’t disagree.

But sitting here tonight and thinking about it, I can safely conclude that the pool and its care and feeling, definitely has something to do with it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could take that same zen-like attitude and apply it everywhere? Maybe that’s what’s happening and I’m just starting to become one with it. Who knows?

Peace out…Mur

Jim Murray is a marketer, communication strategist, writer, art director and blogger. His partner, Charlene Norman is a business systems and operational analyst. Their collaboration is called Bullet Proof Consulting, headquartered in St Catharines, Ontario. Bullet Proof is designed to help companies change their thinking for the better, to become more productive, efficient, better branded and successful in today’s highly competitive business world. You can get a very clear impression of how we think by reading our business blogs at www.bulletproofconsulting.ca/blog


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Jim Murray

4 years ago #10

You take your zen where you can find it.

Milos Djukic

4 years ago #9

Good times for a change Jim Murray and certainly for a better. This is a very powerful article. Introspection is a rare gift in social media, which are usually filled with nicely packed nonsense And yes we can be great when we are anonymous or when we clean the pool. Hence, you are great. Life is a short road to greatness or even negligence. I was brave or mad enough to recognize cynicism before, and not now. I understand cynicism and have a good dose of it myself. Does that give me the right to share some advice my friend? Maybe. But first of all to myself. Fractals forever and also a personal introspection above everything. I know nothing, as usual, but I am hard learner. Thank you.

Jaqui Lane

4 years ago #8

Jim, Pool maintenance and zen? But I guess that's the response most of my friends have to my garden, veggie patch, worm farm, compost, watering routine. There's something about the regularity of tending to something that doesn't require feedback or a conversation that is calming. Next to swimming gardening is where I do some of my best 'non-thinking', that great state where you're doing something and not thinking but when you stop you've actually allowed your brain to relax and sort stuff out. Actual meditation does this as well but if your pool works for you that's great. Will wait to see if you start weaving in pool/water analogies to your writing. Jaqui

Jim Murray

4 years ago #7

Thanks Jerry Fletcher. You got what I was trying for. So that makes me very happy.

Jim Murray

4 years ago #6

Where's the 'organic' in that? Paul Walters

Jerry Fletcher

4 years ago #5

Jim, I find it haunting that your voice has now a calm once reserved for the eye of the hurricane. It is different in texture but the open clarity is still there. I'm enduring the opposite in terms of house neatness. Mine is on the market so it must be kept strack for showings. I feel like I'm back in Officer Candidate School primed for inspection at any moment.

Paul Walters

4 years ago #4

Zen says. Get a timer and that pump turnson allby itself that is till it breaks down!

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #3

Welcome to the club, Jim. People may prefer to do business with others who have shared interests but doing business at all ultimate requires the presence of real business people and those interested in acquiring goods and services. Both of which, unfortunately, are lacking here -- as I've said many times in the last several months. When it comes to business on beBee, you have to ask, "What is the sound of one hand clapping? Cheers!

Jim Murray

4 years ago #2

Phil Friedman. Thanks bud. FYI I posted this on Pulse too. Just to see what would happen. So far 7 whole views. I promoted it once on my newsfeed. It's still pretty pathetic over there. Starting this week, because we are now fully organized, I will be doing the bulk of my posting on the Bullet Proof web site and in our Facebook group. I will also be linking to your business group. This site is very lopsided social to business.

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #1

Hopefully, Jim Murray, you will soon become a master of both Zen AND swimming pool maintenance. As you correctly perceive, swimming pool maintenance is something you can put your soul into, concentrate, become one with the sparkling clear and clean water and algae-free pool surface. You have much to learn, yet. But I'm sure you will -- if you give yourself to it wholeheartedly. Take it from someone who has communed with some 15,000 plus gallons for more than two decades. BTW, one of the best pieces you've written -- with all due respect to Robert Pirsig, who didn't really know squat about motorcycles or their maintenance. https://www.bebee.com/producer/@friedman-phil/innovation-does-not-always-mean-progress

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