Have You Checked Under the Hood?

So it was one of those mornings. As I approached the first stop sign on my way to work, I hit the brake pedal and my foot went all the way to the floor. A few seconds later, the brake service light came on.

Fortunately my car was able to stop. I returned home to find a small puddle on the driveway. A closer look showed brake fluid seeping from behind one of the rear tires. Great. I knew this meant the dreaded trip to a mechanic.

I normally prefer to fix things myself instead of having a service manager tell me twenty additional things he’d love to take care of (for quite the exorbitant fee), but free time is a commodity that evades me these days.

Before taking the car in, I remembered all of the maintenance items that have been idling on my to-do list for the past few months. The front left tire needs air. The window wiper fluid light has been turning on and off for a few weeks. The check engine light that has annoyed me for the last five years occasionally reports a false sensor alarm. The oil dipstick sits just below the “Add” line, and so does my engine coolant.

It adds up fast, and other than my leaky brake, it took me all of fifteen minutes to remedy these issues. But truth be told, I didn’t want to look like the clueless customer who never checks the obvious. That would surely make me fodder for the body shop boys’ joke of the day (though I’m sure I’ll still fuel some laughs).

When Was the Last Time You Looked?

The funny thing is this disruption to my busy routine forced me to stop and look under the hood, but not just with my car. I’ve literally had these fix-it items written on a list for several weeks, and more than procrastination, I’ve allowed too many other items on that list to trump regular maintenance.

Isn’t life just like that? We get busier, burning rubber every day to keep up with everyone speeding by. We forgo regular checks under the hood needed to maintain a healthy pace of living, and it’s only a matter of time before something breaks down. Could be our health. Our marriage. Our family. Our work. Our cars. I was ticked about the whole event, but I was also thankful for the interruption. I needed it.

Time, and how much we miss as it goes by, should not be something we’re reminded of only when we have a breakdown. I know crisis situations are going to happen regardless of how much we plan and maintain, but we need to schedule regular self-checks and stick to them. We could avoid a multitude of problems if we did, and life would hum a little smoother.

How often do you check under the hood, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually? Are you intentional about taking timeouts in your life for a sanity check? If so, how often do you do it, and what does “life maintenance” look like for you?


Featured image by efilpera. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.

2 thoughts on “Have You Checked Under the Hood?

  1. I feel ya on this one, for sure.

    Not nearly as often as I should. I think about checking, I plan times in my head for checking. But “life” has a way of turning good intentions into regrets, it seems.

    Will I ever reach a point in my life where I don’t feel like I’m just riding a stationary bike, waiting for something grand to happen? At what age will I look back and decide that all of the things that I allowed to slip further down my list were the most important things of all?


    1. Kris, I hear ya, man. I think the only way we get away from waiting for something to happen is to step off the stationary bike. That in itself—stepping off—is making something happen. It’s a step.

      I’m finding that waiting for something grand to happen is not as important as just moving towards something. “Grand” is relative to our perspective. What may be grand to us may look small to others. The point is that we’re moving toward something that draws us, maybe even calls us. But we will definitely miss that if we don’t force those timeouts. The world isn’t going to offer us a break. We have to be intentional and fight for those moments that allow us quiet space to think. One thing I’ve learned is nobody else will do that for you, but you have everything you need to do it yourself. It’s called choice. And we can cheer each other on to make those choices! 🙂


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