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The joy of inefficiency

October 13th, 2004 · 3 Comments


This morning the girls and I went to Winslow, downtown Bainbridge Island, to attempt a number of errands on my list. I don’t usually let them run ahead, but the sidewalks were clear and sunny and the kids were happy and laughing. Here they are in their red and purple wardrobe, dashing down the sidewalk away from me. I scrambled to find my camera, fast they went in their joy.

Afterwards I was tempted to come home and post a rant on inefficiency. It was the kind of day that felt frustrating, and my inability to accomplish what I desired only accentuated the anguish. I wanted to write Inefficient! Inefficient! My computer is inefficient! The Post Office is inefficient! The library is inefficient! I felt more martial than maternal today, barking orders at times to keep the kids in line as we went from store to store. Places To Go! Things To Do!

Yet the more frustrated I become, the more life becomes lists and accomplishments. I become a cog in the wheel and my kids become cogs too. We all become objects. Then the relational matters of life require more energy leading to greater inefficiency and frustration.

Of course, the obvious conclusion is that life itself is inefficient. And I am inefficient. I am no machine. Neither are my kids or husband. And that’s the way it should be. There’s got to be more to get in life than getting things done. Sometimes I need a little reminder, even if it means aggravation.

Here ends my rant and soapbox story. I will refrain from elaborating longer on efficiency. And leave you here with the image of two young sisters running in the sunlight down the sidewalk, wearing red and purple dresses, giggling and skipping past the flowers on an October morning, in the way only little girls can do.

Tags: journal

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 paul // Oct 13, 2004 at 9:02 pm

    Efficiency is for machines . . .

    Whenever you have an efficient government you have a dictatorship.
    Harry S Truman, Lecture at Columbia University, 28 Apr. 1959 — 33rd president of US (1884 – 1972)

    I think efficiency and tyranny are kindred ideas, in many aspects. Efficiency gives us freeways, McDonalds, instant oatmeal, and soundbites for news.

    I’m all for slowing down.

  • 2 Dennis R // Oct 13, 2004 at 10:29 pm

    Thank you again, Julie. Something else I need to remember, to slow down and allow life to happen. Not worry about “being productive” on my off time. Not worry about checking off bullet points (for me, about whether I “should” be making lists to check bullet points off of).

    Not holding myself to a standard I cannot achieve. An important and oft-forgotten point.

  • 3 Julie // Oct 15, 2004 at 10:36 pm

    Thank you, Paul and Dennis, for your encouragement, needed for me this week…efficiency is indeed for machines…and I am not one!