How slow tasks and chores can be the doorway to connection
A few months ago I found this beautiful piece of fabric that I thought would make a lovely rug. My mum’s an amazing seamstress so I bought it knowing that she would know what to do. In my imagination, I guess I thought she would say it would be easy and my $30 piece of fabric would turn into a gorgeous rug at a bargain price with minimal effort.
When I showed her what I had bought she agreed that it was beautiful and said that yes we can definitely do it. She would buy the wadding and a backing, and it would require us spending maybe 10 hours each hand quilting it all together. 20 hours of needle-work… for what was meant to be an easy fix.
My initial reaction was one of horror. It sounded like an enormous amount of work in an area that I was absolutely not skilled in. And taking the extra materials and man-hours into consideration, my $30 piece of fabric was suddenly looking like a very expensive rug. I began to wonder why I hadn’t just spent the money in the first place and bought a professionally made rug, saving us both a lot of work.
But mum smiled knowingly at me… “It’s not work.” She said. “It’s the perfect excuse for us to spend quality time together talking and bonding.”
Could she be right? Could the benefits of talking outweigh the daunting impression of work?
We sat down for our first session. I’ll admit, I was dubious and still wished I’d taken the easy way out with a ready-made bought rug. But as we got talking, something magical happened. The conversation led us down a path that mum and I hadn’t been down in a while. We talked about some of our deepest fears, where they came from, and what they were stopping us from doing. We learned that our fears were the same. And as we came around to the mutual advice that made me, in any case, feel more confident about facing my fears, we looked down and the rug was finished. Stage 1 at least.
So she was completely right of course. It hadn’t been work. It had been an opportunity for connection, for mutual support and guidance. It had saved us both valuable dollars in life coaching fees and had been the path for each of us to become stronger and more confident.
And it just got me thinking about how we as a society view the things that we have to do. We’re always looking for ways to do things faster and more efficiently because of the misguided belief that faster is better.
And I’m completely guilty of this myself. When I feel the need to connect with family and friends, I’ll often write a text or an email, thinking that if I called, we’d talk for half an hour and I really only have 5 minutes… so an email it is. At least they’ll know I’m thinking of them right? But what kind of connection is that really?
The value that comes from a good chat far surpasses an email. Hearing a voice, a tone, actually being able to engage in real dialogue and be a support for the other person. It’s obvious right? And yet we still feel held by the desire to ‘save time’ without realising that it comes at a cost.
When I was a child for example, the nightly chore of washing up was a team effort with one person washing, and the rest drying. It was a slow process, which meant that most of the time we fell into a conversation. Now though, most families have a dishwasher and so often, one person stacks it by themselves. Or even if the whole family helps, it’s finished so quickly and everyone separates again without having had the opportunity to bond.
We drive to the shops because it’s faster than walking, but we miss out on the connection with nature, the exercise, and the opportunity to chat with who ever we’re with.
We buy ready-made food because the idea of cooking, again, feels like a task too big for our busy minds, but we forget the fact that spending time together cooking is one of the best ways to bond with the people who will share the meal.
We buy a scarf instead of knitting one ourselves, overlooking the indulgent connection with self that comes through creating.
So the reminder to me is this… sometimes doing things the slow way doesn’t have to amount to more work… instead it can be the doorway to deep and real connection with those around us.
So next time you find yourself begrudging a ‘chore’, stop for a minute and ask yourself “could this be a chance to reconnect with self or others? Could this chore actually be a gift in disguise?” because the only thing that stops it from being one is our habit of thinking it’s a chore in the first place.
Remember… it’s not work… it’s bonding!