Dec 09, 2018 01:04:24

Chop wood, carry water

by @vickenstein | 292 words | 113🔥 | 115💌

Victoria Maung

Current day streak: 113🔥
Total posts: 115💌
Total words: 31894 (127 pages 📄)

Colin O' Brady is actively seeking to be the first man to trek across Antarctica solo without aid or support, and today he is on his 36th day.

His daily recitation is chop wood, carry water

Everyday he has to pack his supplies, trek approximately 17 miles, and pitch his tent again. He attributes consistency in the unglamorous as the key to his success as a pro-endurance athlete. 

I interpret this phrase also as the importance of mundanity. Not only should we be consistent in practice, but we should also indulge guiltlessly in the mundane, like cooking and cleaning.

I am a big believer in the value of manual labor. Some may view chores as a "waste of time" (which is certainly true in poorer parts of the world where girls can spend up to 14 hours per week hand-washing laundry instead of being at school).

However for most of us, manual chores can serve as a mental break from our larger goals. Taking care of your children, washing the dishes, or shoveling snow are tasks that are also good for you physically. Furthermore, these menial errands can be meditative, anchoring you in the visceral world during this technology-driven age. 

There is no denying that our lives will become much more virtual than physical, as automation and outsourcing help us lead more efficient lives. But what will be left if all we prioritize time for is (1) relentlessly pursuing our goals, and/or (2) hedonistic leisure? 

Chop wood and carry water is a daily reminder of our human condition. Rather than focusing on leaving a legacy or maximizing impact, by sculpting the next David or building the next Google, sometimes it's refreshing to live simply in the mundane.

  • 1

    @vickenstein "we should also indulge guiltlessly in the mundane, like cooking and cleaning" that got me deep! Usually I do tend to see it as a waste of time, but doing these simple tasks every day do teach a lot. When I'm traveling those are taken care of by street food vendors or hotel managers, but I miss performing those tasks and only by reading you I realized it! So thanks

    Basile Samel avatar Basile Samel | Dec 09, 2018 11:06:39
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      @basilesamel I'm glad this showed you a different perspective. I'm sure that eating at vendors or having hotel management is a nice way to reconcile with a million other things you do, but there is something to be said about the gratification of making a nice homemade stew.

      P. S. Not going to lie, but I was sort of thinking of karate kid's "wax on, wax off" when I wrote this quote, haha.

      Victoria Maung avatar Victoria Maung | Dec 09, 2018 16:08:21
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    @vickenstein love this 200 words! It's a daily reminder to stay grounded and humble for sure, and not let our projects/desires for the future eat into what we can enjoy in the present.

    Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Dec 09, 2018 05:38:20
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      @jasonleow thank you, and I also like your re-phrasing! I was also reminded of Thich Nhat Hanh's The Miracle of Mindfulness as I was writing this peace. He's a Vietnamese monk goes into more detail about how to practice engaged mindfulness.

      Victoria Maung avatar Victoria Maung | Dec 09, 2018 16:11:45
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      @vickenstein Ah no wonder this piece resonated! I'm a big fan of his work and books and spent time at Plum Village as well.

      Jason Leow avatar Jason Leow | Dec 10, 2018 05:28:26
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