Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.
A few weeks ago I set my kitchen on fire. I don’t mean like a tiny grease fire, I mean a real fire. Like if it had been left alone for even a minute or two long the fire department would have been called kind of fire.
I have a routine in the morning: I wake up, put my stove top espresso maker to boil on the stove and go have a shower. By the time my shower is done, my espresso has boiled and I can make my morning latte. I’ve been doing this for years without incident, that is until three weeks ago. In a rare occurrence during the week, I had done the dishes the night before, and since our house doesn’t have a lot of counter space, I had moved our electric kettle to the stove. All of this combined contributed to a morning of panic.
As per usual I started my coffee and went into the shower, only to have my roommate run into the bathroom five minutes later screaming “FIRE! FIRE!” I jumped out of the shower, wrapped myself in a towel and ran to the kitchen where I found my roommate swatting our kettle to the floor and dousing it in water. It turns out I had turned on the wrong burner and accidentally lit the cord attached to the kettle on fire. And as luck would have it, none of the batteries in our fire alarms were working (we have since replaced them for obvious reasons). However, my roommate had slept on our couch that night and awoke to the smell of burning plastic. I can almost guarantee I would have burnt our entire house to the ground if she hadn’t been there.
Instead I wound up wrapped in a towel in our kitchen thinking that if the fire department did wind up coming I probably wouldn’t want to be sent outside without any clothes…or my hair done (I mean a girls got to have some priorities right? In the movies this is exactly how I’d meet my future spouse.) Long story short, there’s some plastic on our kitchen wall from the fire and I owe my roommate a new kettle (I’m trying to convince her we should get a non-electric one so we can avoid any incidents like this in the future, plus they come in way cooler colors than the electric ones!)
You think after this incident I would have learned my lesson. However, earlier this week I came home from an exhausting day at work, and had to bake a cake for a friend. I recently bought new measuring cups with metal handles, unlike our old ones which were made of plastic. Something that didn’t seem to make a difference until, out of habit, I placed a measuring cup in the microwave to melt my butter. As we all know metal and microwaves do not mix. There was a bit of an electricity issue and I had to use oven mitts to take my measuring cup out of the microwave, but so far our microwave seems to still work. As for anyone who may have eaten that cake after I used the electrocuted butter, I apologize for any genetic mutations it may cause you in the future, but anything I make is eat at your own risk.
Perhaps I just shouldn’t be allowed around anything electrical, I also spilled feta cheese all over my phone charger whilst it was plugged in a couple weeks ago. So far my phone is fine, unless you think that my Google maps randomly turning on and directing me to the nearest gas station when it hits 90% charged is weird.
It’s amazing how many things I do in a day that I don’t think about. Every password I put in at work is based off a routine. Anytime I stop to think what it might be I forget it. I go for coffee at the exact same time during the day, and I know I’m not the only one whose driven somewhere on autopilot. Most of the time we do these things on a regular basis without thinking because we’ve done them so many times and gotten the same result. However, my experiences with my stove and microwave got me thinking, how much of my life am I just wandering through aimlessly? What am I not appreciating about the everyday things that I should be?
I get so focused on the milestones. On what’s coming up and where I’m going, that the minute something becomes normal or routine I get bored. When I was in university all I could think about was graduating and the amazing career I was going to have. And when I got a job all I could think about was the next one I was going to have, and how that would help me achieve my dream job (confession time: I don’t even know what my dream job is). A new job is only new for so long, and then it just becomes a job. However, I love my current job. As an admin I wind up doing different things all the time, interacting with a lot of my office, and basically just trying to anticipate the needs of my team and how I can make their lives easier. I have a boss who wants to see me succeed and gives me so much opportunity. However I’m still restless. I can always find something that isn’t quite enough about my job. It doesn’t pay enough, I don’t have enough responsibility or I’m not important enough. And when that happens I start to just go through the motions. Get up. Got to work. File paperwork. Come home. I lose the joy in a job I love because not every day is exciting, and some days look the same as before. I begin to get lost in the normalcy and suddenly a week’s gone by, a month, a year, and I can’t really remember most of it. I haven’t really been present for most of it.
I was the same way in a lot of my relationships. I struggled with being present. I was always so focused on what happens next. When will we fall in love, get engaged, get married? I didn’t know (and still don’t really) how to do an everyday relationship. The concept of just hanging out eluded me. Shouldn’t every moment you spend together be epic? Shouldn’t there be butterflies, and long winded speeches, and grand gestures? (I may be watching too many Hollywood movies. Clearly I need to scale back a bit). I would get bored in a relationship the same way I did at work. I started falling into doing the motions instead of actually enjoying the relationship. How many moments just passed me by because my attention was somewhere else? Because I wasn’t engaged enough in the person I was with?
Ideas and concepts are great. And as a planner it’s what’s always on the back of my mind. What’s my next move? Where is this going to take me, how is it going to get me to where I want to go? However, it also causes me to lose out on a lot of moments happening around me because I can’t see them. I’m so focused on the big picture, I forget about the small picture, which is just as important.
Sometimes you just need a wake up call. For me it was setting my kitchen on fire because I was so used to my day to day I didn’t even pay attention to which burner I was turning on. Or noticing that my measuring cups are no longer microwave safe. Mindlessly wandering through life can be dangerous. Luckily for me my roommate was there to (literally) put out the fire that I had left in my wake.
The future is great. It’s exciting and it’s scary. But it’s not the be all end all. We’re going to get there no matter what, it’s inevitable. However, we can either be engaged in the little moments of life that lead up to the big ones, or we can be so focused on the big things that we miss out on the little things that brought us to the moments we’re idolizing so much. This is going to be a tough one for me. I already know that, but in order to avoid any more real or metaphorical fires in my life I need to focus on what I’m doing now, and not what I might be doing later.