It was already 1:30 and we were walking back into Lowe’s for the 4th time. Not 4 separate trips, one trip. 4 times in and out of the store. Each time we made it through the checkout line and back to the car, we immediately realized we had forgotten something we needed. My wife will tell, this kind of thing drives me crazy. Because when your expectations of what you’re going to accomplish in a given day are as high as mine, there’s not much room for things to go wrong.
I began to realize sometime last year that my perception of what a "normal" day was, had grown bloated. The problem is, I had started looking at certain tasks that I didn’t particularly like as short, get-it-done-and-move-on tasks. The more things I committed too, the smaller those things got to be in my mind. Banking? No problem. Doing laundry? No problem. I’ll do it right after I get done updating the church website.
The problem is, those things aren’t short little things. They take time. And I was doing myself a huge disservice by not accepting that fact. So I’d end up planning my day full of so many things that I’d end up feeling like a failure by the end of the day because not everything had gone perfectly.
This also exposes another problem. My expectations are based on perfection. I base what’s normal on what’s really exceptional. I still remember the night I bowled a 221 back at Manheim Lanes. No one was there to see it, but it became my new "normal" bowling score. From that point on, if I didn’t make 221, I was failing to play up to what I was capable of.
So because there have been a few days where I got an enormous amount of things done because everything went exactly as planned, that has become my idea of a "normal" day. So anytime anything goes wrong, it feels like I’m failing. Because I’m looking at near-perfect and confusing it with "normal".
As I look around at American culture, it becomes obvious to me that I’m not alone. I think that collectively we have a distorted view of what "normal". Of what one person should be able to do. Technology has cut so many corners for us, leaving gaping holes in our day, that we then fill with more stuff. Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I just accepted the fact that I can only get one really important task done in a given evening, and then limited my responsibilities around that reality….