There was a box from Amazon at the door. I forgot what I ordered. I opened it up. Coffee. Another one came two days later. A carrier for my lunch tin and copies of my friend’s book. Cool. I don’t buy a lot of stuff, but when I do, I forget it’s on the way–the immediate decision being over and done with, item filed into memory. It seems a little like Christmas when the package arrives.
“But you bought and paid for those items. What’s Christmaslike about that?” you might ask.
The American culture is so built on immediate gratification that when there’s a break in the chain of events one of two things happens. First–we forget about stuff and decide we don’t need it. That’s the usual path to simplicity. But if I buy something, I usually need it. I’m not an extravagant person. The passing of time is just enough to make me feel like I got myself a gift.
That got me to thinking.
“Can I get myself a gift without spending cash?”
The answer is always yes, in focusing on the simple things, and in doing good.
Every time we invest time in doing simple things and doing good, really make it part of the fabric of our existence, we’re shopping for our future. This year, I’ve spent time doing many things–enjoying a new home with my family, trying my hand at being a homesteading poser, meeting rock stars in education and technology, writing, learning, working toward balance, being healthier, avoiding insanity, and…yes, shortening my emails. All good things.
I’ve noticed something. The wait time speeds by. Three months pass. Six months pass. A year passes, and suddenly I look up and there’s a package at my door. Instead of it being a new lunch tin for school or a package of coffee, it’s a gift from me to me. Better writing. More knowledge. Friends who have become central to my life.
Society spends a lot of time on resolutions, habits, self-improvement. We read books, go to the gym, eat lettuce… sometimes we spin our wheels and expect results.
“Hey, I’m your scale…stop stepping on me and go eat a carrot.” We fixate on the impossible forgetting that one good thing done today is really the critical investment in our long-term goals. Doing one small thing usually isn’t painful. Today, eat a carrot, six months down the road while making a carrot salad, you notice. You say, “Wow, I eat healthier.”
A year later, it’s, “I’ve balanced my life and job by putting aside work for an hour or two a day and doing fun things with my family.”
It’s like paging through snapshots in a photo album–easy to see the journey and the results. A pleasant surprise–the realization that the path to happiness is no more than one smile issued today.
It seems amazing, “I didn’t know I could do all this.” The cliché turns out to be the truth. A journey of a thousand miles really does began with a single step…before you know it, you’ve traveled to the top of the mountain.
It’s a little like Christmas. Without all the greed.