A few weeks ago, we ran out of coffee pods. (I know, I know. The shame.)
But far from being a nuisance, it turned out to be an epiphanic moment. No longer did I have hot, strong coffee literally at the touch of a button, instead I had something completely unexpected: peace.
I try to get up early most mornings (although since the holidays, my strike rate is a little shaky) and this pre-dawn wakeup is generally only achievable with strong coffee. Needless to say, the first few days without my caffeine fix were tough and I felt the lack of convenience sharply. But then I rediscovered our French press in the back of the cupboard, largely unused since the coffee machine arrived on our bench.
I could face my early mornings with coffee once more, but in order to get my fix I needed to do a little work.
First I needed to boil the jug and measure out the coffee, then pour the water, wait for the coffee to brew, and finally pour a cup. It’s most definitely a First World issue, and certainly more involved than pushing a button.
But taking the time to move through this simple ten-minute ritual not only gave me the gift of coffee, but it also gave me ten minutes in which I could greet the day. Instead of pushing a button and thirty seconds later, walking in to my office still bleary-eyed, now I spend that ten minutes stretching and busting out a quick Sun Salutation on the kitchen floor. Once that’s done I drink a glass of water, pour my coffee and greet the day with energy. This ritual helps me focus my breath, stretch my back and hips and get the blood moving. In fact, this pre-coffee practice has become one of my favourite parts of the day.
I know it sounds trite, but taking this time to wake myself up and really engage with my head and my body is one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made over the past 12 months and it’s all down to enjoying a lack of convenience.
Am I against all modern conveniences? No. Haha! No. No. Definitely not.
Takeaway once every few weeks. A dishwasher. Google. My iPhone. These are all modern conveniences that I make use of frequently.
But we need to recognise there are times that convenience is important, and there are times that it robs us of opportunities for a moment of mindfulness.
Think of the moment you will gain if you:
- Brew a coffee or tea from scratch.
- Wash dishes by hand and relish in the feel of the warm water and suds on your fingers.
- Hang clothes outside to dry in the sunshine, concentrating on the cool dampness of the linen and the click of the pegs.
- Walk to the shop instead of drive, giving yourself the opportunity to slow down, get outside and get engaged with the day.
- Grow some of your own herbs, salad greens or sprouts and relish the pleasure in eating something from your own garden.
- Make your own bread and concentrate on the process of kneading the dough.
Where so often convenience allows us to not even think about the process of making coffee or washing dishes, we can instead take that moment and use it to slow down. Convenience gets us a lot of things, but rarely does it help us slow down. Usually it’s the opposite. We feel compelled to “do something useful” with the time we’ve saved.
But what if that “something useful” is actually taking the time to experience the task at hand? What if your “something useful” is to stop while your tea brews, take some deep breathes, stretch, say a prayer, write down one thing you’re grateful for, or simply soak up the sight and smell of your tea?
What if the case against convenience is that it’s stealing more from us than it provides?
Is there one modern convenience you don’t think you could live without? I challenge you to try – just once – to do that task by hand, and let us know your thoughts.
(On a related note, we still haven’t bought any coffee pods.)