An inconvenient life.
November 6, 2010 § 2 Comments
Push a button.
Drive instead of walk. Jump to conclusions. Don’t get involved.
Because convenience allows us to do things quickly we feel effective and efficient. But convenience can also rob us blind.
Convenience is not watching your child sleep, not writing down that song in your head, or turning chicken bones into soup instead of garbage. Convenience is not going to the mom and pop sandwich place instead of the chain, not lying on your back watching the sky. Convenience makes no memories.
The biggest inconveniences of all are the things that mean the most to us: family and friends, our passions, our commitments. They demand our time, our help, our hearts. They bind us to life and make us necessary.
In my father’s boyhood home town of Congers, New York, a town built to house immigrant Swedes, neighbors clung to each other (as much as Swedes can cling). Coping with a new country, they staunchly stuck together as a collective “us” in a world of mostly “them.” This community cared for and accommodated those who could not fend for themselves. One man (not the brightest candle on the Swedish Christmas Tree) helped kids, who probably needed no help, to cross the railroad tracks. Small allowances were made by everyone to support this man. All shared his inconvenience.
Communities like Congers are rare these days. We don’t know each other as well. We are not as connected or provincial. We’re too busy. So we rely on technology and the convenience of online friends to meet our needs—and we keep moving forward in a very straight line until something happens. A dying parent needs care. A child falls seriously ill. A job is lost.
Needing help, we become an inconvenience. But to whom? Do we know anyone that well? Do we even know how to ask for help? Needing help is a sign of weakness and failure, isn’t it? Only a society of convenience would teach that lesson.
Needing help is a necessary part of embracing life’s inconvenience. It requires grace and a willingness to seek out an “us” in a world of mostly “them.”
A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points. So is the interstate, but life resides in the small towns along the back roads and the people met along the way.
No one has ever reached the end of their life and said, “What a great life, it was so convenient!”