There’s been an interesting correlation between creature comforts and anxiety. It happened at first when we landed in Crested Butte (roof over our head) and it’s happened again here with family in Missouri. It seems the more access I have to creature comforts — tv to command my children’s attention, crockpots to make dinner for me, washing machines that allow me to do laundry every waking second of the day, dishwashers to wash dishes for me, heck even reliable warm water at no cost that makes me feel like I need a daily shower — the more I feel like life demands of me and I jump into a cycle of expected productivity. and efficiency So I spend my day in a cycle of keeping up with those expectations and anticipating some reward or moment I might have when it’s all been “produced” and I can rest. I fight against those ongoing demands trying to win or, at a minimum, clear them out of the way (by accomplishing them) to make the space I need to re-enter my head and be present and feel more fulfilled.
Take away some of those creature comforts and most might say life is triple-demanding. And maybe so. But when I make my coffee, I can’t set up a timed machine to make it for me so that I can then go and do other things during that time. I have to just make the coffee. And be 100% about making that coffee. When I make dinner and wash the dishes, I am more present while I make the dinner and wash the dishes because those time consuming activities demand my full attention. I won’t be able to get in a few hours of calls and work while a crock pot roasts my beef.
For the first 3 months of the trip, it got more and more natural to just do the thing I need to do rather than trying to multi-task, on auto-pilot and “accomplish” 3-500 things at once. So when back face-to-face with an alluring set of devices designed to simplify my life, I got giddy thinking I’d have more time available to me because of these things! But like I said, something akin to anxiety crept all around.
Is my life oriented to accomplish and do so efficiently and effectively? Or is my life oriented to be present, be conscious, and be thoughtful about what I do? Am I getting dinner out of the way or am I making dinner? Can rote functions be life giving? Can there be joy in the activity at hand?
Doing these things, I can do. I can fold laundry on conference calls and have dinner ready by 6 pm. Being present for these things? That is more demanding, yet also more rewarding. And I am grateful for this season reworking, slowing down, and resetting expectations of my frazzled mind and body.