The Case Against Convenience

The Case Against Convenience - via Slow Your Home

A few weeks ago, we ran out of coffee pods. (I know, I know. The shame.)

But far from being a nuisance, it turned out to be an epiphanic moment. No longer did I have hot, strong coffee literally at the touch of a button,  instead I had something completely unexpected: peace.

I try to get up early most mornings (although since the holidays, my strike rate is a little shaky) and this pre-dawn wakeup is generally only achievable with strong coffee. Needless to say, the first few days without my caffeine fix were tough and I felt the lack of convenience sharply. But then I rediscovered our French press in the back of the cupboard, largely unused since the coffee machine arrived on our bench.

Enter: epiphany.

I could face my early mornings with coffee once more, but in order to get my fix I needed to do a little work.

First I needed to boil the jug and measure out the coffee, then pour the water, wait for the coffee to brew, and finally pour a cup. It’s most definitely a First World issue, and certainly more involved than pushing a button.

But taking the time to move through this simple ten-minute ritual not only gave me the gift of coffee, but it also gave me ten minutes in which I could greet the day. Instead of pushing a button and thirty seconds later, walking in to my office still bleary-eyed, now I spend that ten minutes stretching and busting out a quick Sun Salutation on the kitchen floor. Once that’s done I drink a glass of water, pour my coffee and greet the day with energy. This ritual helps me focus my breath, stretch my back and hips and get the blood moving. In fact, this pre-coffee practice has become one of my favourite parts of the day.

I know it sounds trite, but taking this time to wake myself up and really engage with my head and my body is one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made over the past 12 months and it’s all down to enjoying a lack of convenience.

Am I against all modern conveniences? No. Haha! No. No. Definitely not.

Takeaway once every few weeks. A dishwasher. Google. My iPhone. These are all modern conveniences that I make use of frequently.

But we need to recognise there are times that convenience is important, and there are times that it robs us of opportunities for a moment of mindfulness.

Think of the moment you will gain if you:

  • Brew a coffee or tea from scratch.
  • Wash dishes by hand and relish in the feel of the warm water and suds on your fingers.
  • Hang clothes outside to dry in the sunshine, concentrating on the cool dampness of the linen and the click of the pegs.
  • Walk to the shop instead of drive, giving yourself the opportunity to slow down, get outside and get engaged with the day.
  • Grow some of your own herbs, salad greens or sprouts and relish the pleasure in eating something from your own garden.
  • Make your own bread and concentrate on the process of kneading the dough.

Where so often convenience allows us to not even think about the process of making coffee or washing dishes, we can instead take that moment and use it to slow down. Convenience gets us a lot of things, but rarely does it help us slow down. Usually it’s the opposite. We feel compelled to “do something useful” with the time we’ve saved.

But what if that “something useful” is actually taking the time to experience the task at hand? What if your “something useful” is to stop while your tea brews, take some deep breathes, stretch, say a prayer, write down one thing you’re grateful for, or simply soak up the sight and smell of your tea?

What if the case against convenience is that it’s stealing more from us than it provides?

 

Is there one modern convenience you don’t think you could live without? I challenge you to try – just once – to do that task by hand, and let us know your thoughts. 

(On a related note, we still haven’t bought any coffee pods.)

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12 Responses to The Case Against Convenience

  1. Day to day we generally don’t use a lot of those household modern appliances. Sure, I have my iPhone and iPad but all of our dishes are done by hand, often multiple loads a day. We have a drier that has not once been used (we bought it with the imminent arrival of our baby), we also bake our own bread and grow our own veggies. I love living this way, I feel aware of each little job that has to get done. But every now and again I do dream of a dishwasher!

  2. Great post! You are so right … I love my french press too:-).

    Greetings,
    Anja

  3. Glenn says:

    Coffee is actually really bad for your health. Do a search on Amazon for a book called Caffeine Blues. If you’ve ever seen older people with big bags under their eyes, that’s usually due to all the coffee they’ve drunk over the years. Caffeine and Theobromine which is found in chocolate are both neurotoxins.

    A better way to start your day would be to drink a big glass of water first to relieve the dehydration from sleeping (I drink a litre), and then some fresh fruit at least half after that. If you have juicer, you could even use that. A big glass of fresh juice made from carrots, kale, fruit etc, will get you going just as well as coffee, but without the harmful toxins. Having to juice some veggies and then clean the juicer afterwards may not be that convenient, but couldn’t be any less convenient than the coffee ritual :)

  4. Joy says:

    Love it! I also love my french press. My daughter got me the most beautiful tea pot for Christmas. Completely “non convenience”, somehow that little tea basket for loose tea makes a cup of tea so much better than a K-cup or even a tea bag! :)

  5. Rachel says:

    Oh, Brooke… I just ordered coffee pods.

    My husband and I are quite addicted and in love with our little coffee machine. We do love the convenience and the ease of it. We’re city folk transplanted to a small town and that coffee machine made our transition a bit easier. We have slow mornings with our kids, even during the week, and we linger at the table after breakfast with our coffees. Could we do that with a French press – of course! But right now the convenience of it is very enjoyable.

    I don’t have many things I’m tied to but my coffee machine would be the last appliance I get rid of.

    Really enjoyed this post but I am not giving up my coffee pods… yet!

  6. I do this too! Kettle on the stove – then I can usually get in 5 full, slow, wonderful Sun Salutations while I wait for it to boil. While the coffee is brewing, I sit in ‘meditation’- just hanging out and noticing all the sounds of the world waking up. It’s really really beautiful. Next stop – NOT picking up my iphone once the coffee is brewed, something that will be a lot harder I think!

  7. Sarah says:

    After a recent trip to the USA we realised how much nicer drip filter coffee is than our usual made from the cappuccino maker, and it uses half the amount of coffee. So our coffee machine has been unplugged and our drip filters put in its place. They use a coffee paper that can be lifted straight out and put in the compost and any left over coffee is lovely chilled and served with a spoon of condensed milk over ice.

    I just found your blog and this was the first post that I read. I can’t wait to get home this evening and curl up on the couch to read more.

    S

  8. Liz says:

    I relish making my bed each day! The process of bringing tumbled sheets and doona back into order, brings about a calm that often carries through the morning. The kids are learning to appreciate my “make your bed look so comfy you can’t wait to got to bed” reminders too. It’s a simple thing but brings me joy.

  9. Nyaran says:

    Talking about bread: I always make my own from sour dough. It takes one night and one day. It s a long process and I usually prefer less work and time intensive cuisine. But having the sour dough bubbling in my fridge, feeding it once a week, giving it out to friends and those Sundays when I am totally occupied with making my bread for the week – I gain so much quality from that!

  10. […] The Case Against Convenience – Another one of those, sit, wait and focus on the here-and-now posts that I love! […]

  11. […] the irony. You may remember our much lauded French press from my post last week? You know, the one that allowed me time to stretch and welcome the day with energy and […]

  12. Surely Sarah says:

    Mine would have to be my iphone. Turning it off and spending some facetime with hubby is a goal I’ve had for a while!
    I like this post a lot – reminds me of the small things that you can take pleasure in that cost nothing.

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