Wednesday, June 23, 2010

efficient inefficiency

Call me crazy.

Then after you call me crazy, I'll appeal to you, through careful logic, to reconsider.

When I fold laundry, I take items to their designated drawers or bins one, tiny pile at a time. This means that I walk up and down the stairs no less than four times for each finished load of laundry.

(Toast with a turtle.)

I often wash my dishes twice in a row.

When I go to a store, I have favorite places to park that have nothing to do with the proximity to the store entrance.

I find absolute joy in crawling around on my hands and knees in the backyard, picking up disgustingly rotted apples that have fallen from our tree.

(Turtle on a table.)

So, here goes an attempt to explain the mindset that spurs me on in such blatant inefficiency:

Alright. How is it that our lives are so innovated with time-saving technology, yet we often feel as if we are lacking in the areas of productivity and industry? We use dishwashers and microwaves. We travel quickly in cars and shop quickly in one-stop shopping locations. The internet is so very swift.

We have been blessed, through the hard work and inspiration of many individuals, to have within arm's reach, a speedy solution to virtually any obstacle we encounter.

Why then, do we often find ourselves in an uncomfortable deficiency? By this I mean; why, no matter how busy we are, or how many things we check off our lists, do we sometimes feel like lazy bums?

Perhaps people were getting more than clean dishes out of the time they spent hand-washing. Perhaps the arrival to the destination was not near as valuable to our souls as the time it took to get there. Perhaps the waiting was the point.

(Hero in a half-shell.)

Given the time that we spend administering supplements for our efficiency-related deficiencies, are we really being that effective?

Supplements include but are not limited to:
Vitamin G: Spending grueling and unwelcome time at the gym to make up for the lack of exercise we're getting.
Vitamin F: Trying desperately to squeeze one-on-one time with our family members into our weekly routine.
Vitamin $: Working longer hours to pay for the latest time-saving apparatus that will no doubt be the solution to our crunch.

(Better believe this baby sleeps all night now.)

Here is how I keep in shape.

I mow my own lawn, and try not to use the auto-drive on the mower. Saves on gym-time and membership, plus the $ I would be paying some kid to do it.

Like I mentioned before, I walk up and down the stairs a lot to put away laundry. Sometimes I let my kids hold the laundry piles while I carry them up the stairs. I get my workout time in with the added benefit of one-on-one time with my family.

(Barbecue belly-button.)

The dishes, we frequently wash those together. Although we do not own a dishwasher, we get those dishes clean (after two washes) with the marvelous chance to talk and laugh and teach. We may not be fast in a dish-by-dish sense, but I'd say that in terms of things pertaining to eternal value, we make a quite efficient team.

(Big, beautiful brown eyes.)

We park our car next to the place that the really cool car-carts are kept. This facilitates our access to some free entertainment in our shopping process. We've grown accustomed to the sideways looks we get from fellow, store patrons as we run, screaming for joy, through the parking lot (I guess I could have filed this along with my adventures with gym-free exercise). Our "shopping runs" are well titled, though we hardly ever spend less than two hours on any given errand.

(Aunt Choody adorned my ears.)

Picking up apples, thought of as time-"consuming" really is not consuming at all. I find myself busy in work that frees my mind for reflection and contemplation. I compose a symphony of thoughts while my children play nearby. Can we really supplement our lives with imitations of such moments at all? Vitamin TV? No, there is nothing so relaxing for me as an authentic journey into my own soul.

(Swinging to the sound of summer.)

Big-picture viewing helps me to understand efficiency in quite a different light. Although it will inevitably slow the process in day-to-day matters, I must let my young children help with the chores. For the long-term benefit will be an army of capable youth with a vested interest in the success of our home. Talk about building a life of true productivity.

(Atrociously decayed apples.)

That slow and steady turtle really did win, didn't he?

(He, the apple king, smiled a happy hello.)

A journey with too many shortcuts will be both brief and boring.

Be thankful for the blessings of technology, but never underestimate the power of doing things for yourself.

(All hail the lawn conqueror.)


The life of Jayne said...

So great, so true! Thanks for the awesome post!

Megan said...

I needed this today! Thanks for your wonderful words! You truly are inspiring!

Brieanna said...

I'm all for "doing it myself," also, but I couldn't live without my dishwasher. I could never be the type of person who hires people to do the day to day things, I take such pride in doing them myself. I wish I had more contemplation time though, perhaps when Ella is older. Hooray for the turtle eating toast and the baby who sleeps through the night, and the beautiful brown eyed boy, and their beautiful mother. Always a pleasure to read your blog and see your families shiny, happy faces.

Lauren Elizabeth said...

This is such a wonderful post! It's a much needed message these days!!!!!

emily said...

this is great. i love these insights. they are truly inspiring. and congrats baby fitz sleeps through the night, hooray!!

Schows said...

Such a great post! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, wonderful! You're my n. 1 source of blog-inspiration! And you are so
right in what you wrote here!

*Lesli* said...

i love your blog so much. so so much.

Patrick and Brooke said...

I can't tell you how much I appreciate this post. Living a simpler life and getting back to the basics has been so much on my mind lately. I recently started using my dishwasher more and realized that I miss the time I used to have to myself (or with my hubby when he helped.) I agree that technology can be a life-saver, but sometimes, it can just feel so wrong. Thanks for your eloquent words, you continue to inspire me.