(This post is part of the 30 for 30 Challenge).
Due to where the New Year holiday fell this year, I’ve been blessed with a few extra days away from the daily grind. Whenever this happens I typically take the opportunity to enjoy some time in my apartment. Since during the week I tend to only spend the last few hours of the day here (i.e., bed time), the times when I can actually spend an entire day at home are rare and appreciated. The cycle of it all reminds me of a line from Steven Sondheim’s musical, Company, where the main character Robert explains to April (a cute girl he just brought home) that,
I’ve always liked my apartment buy I’m never really in it. I just seem to pass through the living room, on my way to the bedroom to go to the bathroom to get ready to go out again.
Sadly, this is mostly the case for me as well.
On those rare occasions when I find myself at home for a few days, I take the opportunity to reset and regroup.
If you’re like me, you operate daily in a world of extreme subtlety. Most jobs today (like mine) are filled with work that, by the end of the day, one often looks back and thinks, “What the hell did I just do?”. For most modern careers, the fruits of labor are highly abstract and only occasionally tangible. As such, one is often left with a desire for more concreteness in one’s life. Surprisingly enough, one can often find these results from small, everyday activities at home.
Some of my favorite activities in and around the house that give me a sense of accomplishment and bring me squarely into the present moment include making a good home cooked meal, the process of preparing tea, and cleaning (yes, cleaning). Activities like this are simple, and they have an uncanny way of focusing the mind. And, the results are immediately received. There is little room for interpretation.
Other things I enjoy at home only require that I be present. For instance, witnessing the passage of the day through my living room window – the sun beams subtly moving across the floor, the faraway din of traffic and people, the cool breeze that occasionally slips in and surprises. These moments are simple, but effective in calming and refocusing the mind.
Being in and with these moments, and experiencing them as they are and as they come, fills me with an ease and awareness that strangely gives me a feeling of oneness. The world and its troubles don’t disappear, but they suddenly fit in their rightful place. I know it sounds a little hokey, but it’s a unique feeling that’s not all that easy to explain. Don’t get me wrong. This state of mind doesn’t just come and stay there. The angst of feeling the need to DO something comes and goes, but with a little time, it too subsides.
Being at home can seem so mundane and inconsequential from an outsiders perspective. Our modern world is constantly pushing and prodding us to be out and about – to DO something. It says to us, unless one is constantly busy and productive, one is wasting time, and consequentially one’s life. And yet, I feel completely the opposite when I’m enjoying and experiencing these things at home. These are rare and valuable moments of rejuvenation, peace, calm, and perspective. This is way more than can be said for how we spend the majority of our waking and working lives.
It isn’t until these times when one can be “away from it all” for a few days that one realizes just how much energy and effort is exerted into existing and functioning in the modern world. So many demands on our attention, our thoughts, our happiness, and our wallet. It isn’t until one can step away from it all, and simply reflect in silence, that one realizes just how much we give up spiritually in order to get materially.
Your apartment has a lot to offer, if only you stop for a while and spend some time there.