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TheAgentof Care

In the ecosystem of my personal space, I am the agent of care. I am the one that assembles and nourishes its ecology, of which I am an integral part. It stands to reason then, when I care for myself I am also caring for this ecosystem.

Hygiene andMaintenance

rather than seeking to compete against my own nature and conquer it, I seek to incorporate myself into it fully. To cooperate with and leverage the natural systems around me. To gain a greater knowledge and mindfulness of the substances and objects in use within my personal space.

The word agent comes from the latin agere which means to do, lead, drive, pass or spend time. In modern english agent means a person who acts on behalf of another or a person or thing that takes an active role to produce a specified effect.

From my own perspective, in my own life, I am the agent. I am the doer, the one who leads, drives, and spends my time. I am the one who acts on behalf of myself and others to mutual benefit; taking an active role to produce an effect, the output or product of caring. To make it as positive and beneficial as I know how right now, while improving my knowledge as I go.

The origins of the word care stem from the Old English noun caru and the verb carian meaning grief, lament or grieve. It is also derived from the Old Norse word kǫr meaning sickbed which may account for a modern preponderance of medical, health or dental specifiers that precede the use of the word care today. Care as a noun refers to that which is provided for the purpose of maintenance, health, welfare or protection to the benefit of something or someone. As a verb, it means to look after and provide the needs of or to attach importance to someone or something; to feel concern, interest, affection or liking.

In my society there is a mainstream yearning to alleviate the personal burden of caring. Though the emotions of grief and lament are no longer expressed in the definition of care, they remain implied in its usage. Factions within my society manufacture an image celebrating a “carefree lifestyle” urging me to earn the privilege to have “not a care in the world” through economic performance. It does this while simultaneously abhorring the “careless” and “uncaring”. This cognitive dissonance is amplified and projected upon the members of my society to the point that many have sought refuge in the mantra: “I don’t care”.

Well I do care. I care about myself and my family. I care about the people who by chance of birth are in this society and those by chance of birth are members of other societies. Is my care authentic, or just a mask I put on for show and social acceptance? What would indicate my caring is authentic or spurious? Certainly I would know the difference, but how could someone else determine that difference? It must be through the display of my actions as an agent of care. Because the noun, care; is demonstrated through authentic care, the verb.

Taking care of myself takes care of this ecosystem while taking care of this ecosystem takes care of myself. There really is no distinct boundary to these spheres of concern. They are deeply entangled .

The word hygiene is an old French word, latinized from the greek hugieinē technē which means art of health. Hygiene, more than just keeping clean, is a methodology for remaining healthy. The specific rituals and practices adhered to by people of a society vary from culture to culture.

A whole system of personal hygiene could be described by addressing the mind and body but also continuing outward into the ecosystem of my personal space. Beginning with mental hygiene to maintain the cleanliness and health of my mind, and bodily hygiene to maintain the cleanliness and health of all aspects of my physiology. Within my personal space; I require a hygiene for my clothing and laundry, the food and water I use. The sacred objects I handle to perform a given task, the amenities and furniture, surfaces, walls and floors of my shelter. This extension of hygiene beyond my body and into the environment feeds back into my mental hygiene. There is a general feeling of emotional well-being in a tidy space; along with a sense of heightened creative potential with more time to spare.

Maintenance is the process of preserving, perpetuating or prolonging, a continuation or carrying-on of the state of being maintained. It requires a technical know-how and practiced skill to perform, but it also requires a monitoring and scheduling to know when to perform it.

Hygiene consists of maintenance. The tasks for bodily maintenance require specialized tools or toiletries like clippers, combs, files, cloths. In addition substances such as ointments, lotions, pastes, oils and soaps, among many others are used to maintain health and protection. How can these items be made on demand? The active ingredients in many of these kinds of products are the same across product offerings. The differences are practically meaningless. The choices are often simply nuances in color and scent. The inactive ingredients are almost always odors, dyes and preservatives to increase shelf life. If I am making these things myself, I don’t need to mass produce them and store them on shelves. I only need to make what I need when I need it from basic feedstocks.

Hygiene also consists of cleaning and those tasks require specialized tools like brushes, scrubbers, sponges, towels, and machines. These tools are made effective when used in conjunction with chemical agents like soaps, disinfectants, and antibacterials. These need to be on hand at all times as well as accounted for in cyclical usage through routines, or rituals to break the chain of infection transmission on hands or surfaces in the home. In regard to surfaces, do I need harsh chemical agents in every circumstance, only some circumstances or even at all? Are there recipes for alternatives that are just as effective?

The best estimates of my body’s biomass conclude that it consists of about 70 trillion cells. 42.86% of the cells are my own. The remaining 57.14% of cells do not even contain my own DNA. These “extra” cells are bacteria in a symbiotic relationship with myself, working to keep my body healthy and stable. Excessive hygiene — the sterilization of myself and my environment — is deleterious to these cells, and can undermine the purpose of hygiene entirely. Like a well planned and executed garden, a balance in the microbial flora of my personal ecosystem is desirable.

Whether it’s your mind and body, the clothes you are wearing, the tools you use, or the surfaces in your home: it’s important to ritually care for these things. They are an extension of your mind and body and the ecosystem of your new avatar. Just like your body needs to be nourished and maintained with nutrition and exercise, your personal space needs to taken care of through hygiene and maintenance not just to ensure longevity and quality, but to set up conditions to thrive.