Sunday, February 10, 2013

multitasking is silly!

For some reason, I launched into making old fashioned popcorn on the stove top while making candied walnuts and setting a new pair of candles in candlestick holders all at the same time.

I'd washed the candlestick holders and put them out on the kitchen counter and put the candlesticks in them.  They were top heavy and slanted to one side, but I had to leave them and dash back to the stove to stir the walnuts and shake the popcorn before they burnt.  Only a few seconds into the stirring and shaking at the stove, there was a crash.  The new candlesticks had fallen onto the floor, broken, and one of the glass wax catchers that sits on the candlestick holder was shattered.  The other one was still whole.

Oh I was SO angry, and frustrated, and disappointed too...   I had to cry a little bit while I swept up the shards to help let go of my emotions.  The candles weren't expensive, but they were pretty... luminescent milky white, and just moments before they'd been whole and enfolded in newsprint as the shopkeeper yesterday had wrapped them so thoughtfully... and I was really looking forward to the light they were going to shed on the dinner table.

If I'd been giving someone CPR and the candles had fallen, well then who cares?  But I'd only been trying to do too many things at the same time.  If I had waited until the popcorn and the walnuts were all done, and then tended to the candles, all would be well.  Instead of feeling rushed, I could've enjoyed the sound of the olive oil simmering and the popcorn hitting the lid of the pot.  I could've appreciated the subtle change in color as the walnuts browned.  But instead, I ended up with broken candles and feeling tired and a little grouchy.

What good came of it?  A healthy reminder that less is more, and that multitasking is not a good idea.  The object of quotidian life is to enjoy it as much as possible, not to scramble through it dividing your efforts.  By focusing individually on the things you're obliged to do on a daily basis - like cooking or cleaning or conversing with people - you can absorb a lot of wonder and pleasure, even from the mundane.  Whenever you divide your attention between too many things, your experience of them is also fractured.  You end up feeling scattered, your chance of creating a sensory memory is diminished... and who wants to feel scattered anyway?  So here's to eliminating senseless multitasking from daily life!

1 comment:

  1. Maria, Maria.... you are sooo right about multitasking! When it is attempted you usually end up with something other than what you were after in the first place. Then things are just satisfactory - you live with it. As you mentioned it is soo mucho better to try and live in the moment and derive the many pleasures to be had in the tasks placed before us each day. As you said, "...absorb...pleasure, even from the mundane". That will be one of my goals this Lent. Thanks Maria! I love your blog ;-)

    Your cousin, Amanda