Sunday, February 18, 2018


I read this "opinion" in today's New York Times and it has stayed with me all day. I'm going to need to read it again after a few days, I think.

Here are a couple of excerpts, in case you don't have time to read the whole thing but want to know what I'm rambling about this time:

"Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

"As task after task becomes easier, the growing expectation of convenience exerts a pressure on everything else to be easy or get left behind. We are spoiled by immediacy and become annoyed by tasks that remain at the old level of effort and time.

"Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place.

"An unwelcome consequence of living in a world where everything is “easy” is that the only skill that matters is the ability to multitask. At the extreme, we don’t actually do anything; we only arrange what will be done, which is a flimsy basis for a life.

"We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient — not always, but more of the time. Nowadays individuality has come to reside in making at least some inconvenient choices. You need not churn your own butter or hunt your own meat, but if you want to be someone, you cannot allow convenience to be the value that transcends all others. Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are."

Much of the day, as I've reflected on this "opinion," I've wished I had an English teacher assigning me to write an essay based on the piece. But I don't have such a teacher, and I don't have my thoughts organized sufficiently to produce an essay. But here are some of them:

. . . Using Amazon to make purchases has become my first option when I need something other than groceries.

. . . The cough medicine I bought (at the grocery store!) the other day comes with a disposable plastic cup to measure the right dosage. Unnecessary plastic but so convenient when a teaspoon would work as well.

. . . Homemade jello doesn't really take very long to make and it tastes much better than the store-bought cups (and again the plastic).

. . . Using the clothes dryer is reflexive at this point but I think back fondly to our last house where we had a clothes line and how good everything smelled when I took it down, and how I took silly joy in hanging all the shirts together, all the socks, etc.

I am newly at the stage of life where, for the first time in many, many years, I have enough time. I don't always have to choose the more convenient way.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this piece. And yes, I read the whole article. Great food for thought! Guess it has something to do with why I quilt—it is challenging, rewarding, and sometimes a real stretch of my creativity and skills.

Barbara Anne said...

What an interesting and inspiring piece. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I remember hearing a comedian say "You know you're impatient if instant coffee takes too long." That has stayed with me. I believe this article will, too.

AMIL and I made jams, chutneys, and salsas together from fresh ingredients (well, for the most part; Sure-jell isn't natural but is certainly handy to get jam and jelly to set). It all tasted so wonderful but I've not made any since she died. I'd like to get back to doing that.

I'm not willing to give up rotary cutters and other such tools for quilting, but I share the joy of quilters long gone when I plan a quilt, choose the fabrics, and sew them into something almost magic that didn't exist until I made it. Too much fun!


Nann said...

I have to remind myself that not all journeys are races. A leisurely pace may be more appropriate...but there's so much I want to see, read, sew, and just plain do!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is thanks for sharing that article. It gives me something to think about.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I read your post early this morning but had to wait until now (when I had a regular keyboard) to comment. This piece resonates with me -- one of the first REAL things I noticed about not going to the office every day was that I could grocery shop whenever I wanted or needed to. No more quick fix dinners - we had time to COOK. And since DH retired, we have not purchased a single loaf of bread - he's baking it all himself. And we love it! Now I'm off to read the full article . . .

cityquilter grace said...

when i had 3 jobs, the microwave wasn't fast enough for meal i don't even have one and don't miss it at all...and though i don't want to go back to washing clothes in a stream, there is such a thing as too much convenience....

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

If I had read this article when I worked outside the home I would never have appreciated it or taken the time to actually THINK about it. I would have spent the time on some task that needed to be done quickly. Today, I see the purpose of the thoughts the writer conveyed. I retired at 62 for many reasons, most of them financial (I know that does not make sense to anyone who does not know my story). I justified retirement...financially...listing saving on auto wear and tear, no more fast food meals or carry out, no need to spend money on clothes because surely I had enough to last the rest of my life, and a few more reasons. I do use my crock pot or instant pot but never use canned soup for sauces. We are eating fresh fruit and vegetables. But I remember when they started promoting using plastic and Styrofoam. They told us there was a shortage of trees after Mt. St. Helen exploded. We bought that and they hooked us good on plastic instead of paper. I tribute that lie to the oil companies that found yet another use for their product. It's all relevant to Big Business Marketing. Most people don't care.

Today I will pay more attention to the items I use that give convenience, as I am typing on this computer for instant gratification.
xx, Carol