I have more freedom in shaping my environment than almost anyone I know. During dark winter days like these, I work surrounded with ambient rainbow lights, relaxing music, scented candles, ginger tea, and wrapped up in cosy blankets. I can take a break and go for a walk in the park if the weather is nice. I can afford another cute shiny thing to make me feel even better.
On most days, I don’t need to compromise on my comfort or convenience. I only live with my husband, and we’ve optimised all of our lives to fit our needs as much as we can. Thanks to magical coding powers and the help of a professional designer, nearly everything in our house works exactly as we want it. Hey, I don’t even need to get off my couch to turn on the light.
It’s easy to forget that most people don’t live like this. I’ve removed so much friction from my day to day life, that most of the friction I have left is in my own head. Whenever I leave my cosy fully-optimised environment, I’m somewhat surprised by how much friction there is.
This made me feel a bit lost when we all got back for Christmas, so many people moving around a small space in a chaotic manner, each trying to accomplish their goals. It’s so much easier to make myself a tea in my spacious kitchen than it is in my family home, with 10 different people trying to do 10 different things at the same time. But sitting alone at home, I won’t get to experience spontaneous singing in harmonies and jam sessions, unexpected conversations about the meaning of it all, or just goofing around out of the sheer joy of being together.
I’m already a bit tired of all this chaos, but at the same time I’m already missing it. I miss meeting my brothers without having to coordinate it first in a Google calendar. I miss hearing about my dad’s latest discoveries, or long conversations with my mum in the kitchen.
In the past, everybody used to live like this, all together in pretty crowded homes. I don’t think my marriage would survive if we did the same. It’s challenging enough to coordinate and compromise between the two of us on what exactly it means to do things our way. We both can get quite stubborn and often territorial.
But even though I wouldn’t want to sacrifice the convenience that we have now, I can’t help but feel that something went lost. There’s this curious serendipity in having so many people bumping into one another. It gets tiring, frustrating, and quite inconvenient, but can also give birth to things that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.