My wife and I are both in our mid-thirties, yet like most of our generation we still mentally feel like we are in our early 20’s. We often act like it too. I think it is amplified by the fact that we do not have children (a life change that often forces maturity on even the most stubborn Peter Pan). A symptom of this mind state is a reluctance to accept the more mundane roles and responsibilities of the Modern Adult Human, which includes tasks such as
- Washing the dishes after dinner
- Cleaning the house
- Going to the dentist
- Keeping the toothpaste lid clean…
- Organising post & paying bills
- Remembering important dates
Making the bed.
This list is by no means exhaustive and I understand that we are essentially big spoilt brats. We want the wine, but do not want to go for a run to mitigate the damage done in the morning. We want a 3-course gourmet dinner but we have zero interest in cleaning up after ourselves. I often find that I am at least conscious of the fact that we are doing these things and even complain about it, but do very little in the way of fixing the problem.
It is a problem and I think it trickles down into many areas of my life. Sure I am busy, I run a small business, maintain an active social life and have far too many hobbies but surely there must be time for the little things to get done, or perhaps even forgoing some of the fun stuff to ensure that they do? In a generation of the overstimulated, something as simple and mundane as making your bed seems pointless. I am just going to mess it up again tonight, right? Our parents and especially grandparents had a much different outlook. It was a task that had to be done, so they did it. Routine. Discipline. My Dad used to freak out at the thought of us sleeping in anything but a well tucked snuggly made bed.
There is a great Zen quote that goes something like
“Before enlightenment carry the water, after enlightenment carry the water”
Meaning that even after the life-changing, all-encompassing revelation of the mind that Zen Buddhists spend a lifetime cultivating, the mundane everyday tasks do not stop and neither should they. I often think of this quote when I walk into my room and see my shit spread out all over the room. What have I been doing with my time that is so important I can’t pick up my clothes? I can come up with a million excuses but the answer is just laziness and thoughtlessness.
Life is a succession of baby steps. Each step may not seem like a leap but when you look back over 2, 3, or 5 years you are amazed at the things that can be achieved. I am extremely proud of some of the things I have made a reality but fear that ignoring the mundane is detrimental to everything else in my life. Especially given that our mantra at Digital Noir is paying attention to detail, giving a damn! Last night, trolling through some social media I saw the video below, it kind of kicked me in the gut. While I am not really partial to many things ‘military’ the core of his message is spot on. The simple task of making your bed when you wake up gives you the momentum for the day to achieve more small chunks, which always add up to great things. If you have an extra 5 minutes watch the talk and I would love to hear your thoughts.
By the way, my bed has new sheets and is tucked tighter than Costanza can stand it!