I squint through the half-light of my living room, on my knees, my laptop balanced on a makeshift desk as I read an email from my boss. It is an act done in denial. I don’t want to work this early on a Saturday morning at home, so I try not to acknowledge my predicament by sitting down on a chair or turning on the light.
I wonder how much we live our lives in denial.
As I arrived at my front door tonight, I plunged my hand manically into my oversized shoulder bag looking for my house keys, when I realized I was in the same situation again. Rather than emptying my bag systematically, I prefer to rifle around in circles, finding the same packet of chewing gum over and over again. It’s like when I can’t be bothered to take the rubbish out at night, so I do it begrudgingly without putting my shoes or a coat on. I don’t want to clean the bathroom mirror, so I use a scrap of toilet paper and leave more dust than I clean off. I keep on using my iPhone with a crack the size of the San Andreas Fault across the screen, because it was expensive and I don’t want it to be broken. By not accepting the situation, I just make it worse.
In moments like these we live our lives holding our breath; waiting for a change instigated by a greater power that will make the tedium of life more bearable. We trick ourselves into that thinking that by not giving ourselves over to the process, we can deny our dependency on such routine – but it only makes the banality more uncomfortable.
All except with food. Food becomes more palatable when it is illicit and not consumed ‘properly’: eating cheese stood at the fridge with the door open; sneaking three chocolates out of the box rather than one; taking an extra spoonful of dessert when you’re supposed to be clearing the plates. Each mouthful is more delicious and nourishing because we are eating for the sake of eating. We skip out on the formalities and procedures that conventionally exist around food and nothing else exists in that moment; we eat purely and simply, for pleasure.
So next time you loose your keys – give yourself over to the moment! Spread the contents of your bag out on the pavement. Declare loudly to your neighbours, “I am the kind of person who cannot get into their own house!” When you next read your work emails at home, sit down, set up a miniature office and write on your personal flip chart “Yes! I DO have problems with my work/life balance!” It might just make the whole experience much more pleasurable, and it will probably pass a lot quicker too.