I was trying to stuff just ONE MORE THING into the compost bucket the other day, and guess what happened? The special expensive organic sustainably-raised acorn-fed compost bag ripped.
(Side note: in Secret Mystics we talk about sending energy down into the earth so that we don’t have to carry it around, and one of the mystics said this week that she was sending the asshole conference in her head down into the earth to turn them into compost, and I thought Okay, my work here on earth is now complete. I can die happy. But I digress.)
I find myself doing this a lot: trying to stuff in just One More Thing.
One more email before I rush to school pickup.
One more dish into the dishwasher before I run it.
One more errand into an overfull shopping trip.
I always feel virtuous when I do this. I’m being so efficient, you see. I’m not wasting resources, like water or time. I’m maximizing return on minimal effort. I’m making one elegant swoop of the city and hitting 12 stops and not going one single mile out of my way.
This feels like the best way to do things.
Except that it totally sucks.
Here’s what I get:
A compost bag that leaks disgusting things.
A dishwasher that won’t open because something is jammed.
An exhausted kid who refuses to get in the car with me ever again.
A harried mom who is always two minutes late for the school pickup bell.
There is this strange myth in my head about doing things elegantly.
About combing errands into a single trip. About not wasting one iota of saran wrap, dishwasher space, or second.
It’s such bullshit!
I know I’m not the only one, because I see it all the time in the beloved brilliant women who are part of my Queen Sweep Secret Society.
We confess it all to each other, sheepishly–
The things for Goodwill that have been sitting by the door for weeks…because we’re waiting to gather things from the rest of the house and make one huge epic efficient trip.
The stacks of laundry on the stairs because it’s more efficient to take it the next time we’re going upstairs anyway…except then someone kicks it over.
The crucial trip to the bank or post office that stays undone…because we were waiting until we could do 3 other errands in the same part of town.
This is a mean, stingy form of perfectionism.
Perfectionism is a panicked sadistic jerk, but it’s sneaky in this case because it masquerades as helpful virtuous Great-Aunt Marge who’s just trying to save you time and money. Just like the devil masquerades as an angel of light, people.
When I was packing up my house a few weeks ago in preparation for my move, I was about two thirds of the way through the fancy gold-rimmed china when I ran out of bubble wrap.
This presented me with a very tricky dilemma, right up there with Sophie’s choice.
Here was the question: Should I go Right Then and get more bubble wrap?
I was on a roll, see, wrapping up precious fragile things in bubble wrap like a total badass. I wanted to FINISH all the dishes. I yearned for that gift of completion. I wanted to check “pack china” off my LIST. And to FINISH, I needed more bubble wrap.
And yet! Make a whole trip just for bubble wrap?!??
The thought of bundling up my kiddo and myself, getting in the car, driving, parking, going into a store, repeat the car nonsense in reverse JUST FOR ONE THING felt completely scandalous. It was so inefficient! The bubble wrap place is right by the grocery store! Where I had to go anyway the next day! Surely I should combine errands!
And then I entered the quantum warp field of Great Ethical Dilemmas where I agonized– truly agonized, because my mind is broken– over whether I should squeeze in a run to the grocery store as long as I was going out, except that if I did that I wouldn’t have time to finish the packing anyway because it would be dinner time, OR if perhaps I should wait until the next day when I would be Right There Already and could pick up bubble wrap en route adding only 4.3 more minutes to the trip, except that this was my packing window right now, and if I waited until tomorrow I’d miss that window, and–
OHMYGOD I need a new brain.
I made a momentous decision in that moment. I struck a blow for freedom and liberty and truth and justice.
I got in the car and BOUGHT THE DAMN BUBBLE WRAP.
I know this might not seem like a big deal, but the foundations of my world were ROCKED.
You know, my dad would do this exact same thing, growing up. Mid-project he’d realize he needed a different wrench, so he’d pop out the door, zoom down to the hardware store, come back with the wrench, and finish up his project. This always seemed so inefficient to me!! A whole trip just for one wrench?? You could get groceries! And trash bags! And maybe a new garden hose as long as you were at the hardware store!
But guess whose projects can drag on for days (ahem weeks) (ahem okay MONTHS)?
Not my dad’s.
So I hereby grant you permission, now and forevermore, to run little piddly errands.
And also, not for nothing– please remember that your most precious resource is YOU.
Your energy is unbelievably valuable. Seriously. It’s right up there with those little slider ziploc bags you keep rinsing out. So please treat that valuable resource of yourself accordingly. Like rubies, dearheart.