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The Inconvenience of Convenience

View ProfileFor years and years I was a self proclaimed 'Man of Convenience'. Back in my mid-twenties I had a job I thought was of prestige in my line of work. I worked for a gentleman who grew up wealthy and married into a family I would categorize as 'ultra-wealthy'. I would frequently visit his luxurious home in the very luxurious neighborhood of the very luxurious community in which he lived.

There were often moments at his home that I would experience the convenience of having so much money he had at his 'disposal'. The simplest of things were of no match for this lifestyle he lived.

I recall one day he had asked me to come by his home and help him hook up a piece of electronic equipment he had purchased. When I asked him if he had an electrical power strip he led me down the hall to a cabinet that was filled with new power strips still in the package. It seemed as though every snag had as simple of a solution. In these moments he was kind enough to share with me, he introduced me to the tempting life of convenience.

I began to model my life as a person of convenience, yes, purchasing my own stockpile of new power strips, believing that would fulfill my life. This was the 'me' that I now look upon with a new perspective on the life of convenience.

Now, I must preface this by saying that I have no problem with living life with money or even living life with excessive goods we do not require to survive in this human existence. In fact, I have no problem at all with convenience if that is the way one wishes to live. However, to choose a life of convenience, or any life style we must do so with our eyes wide open, figuratively speaking.

Living free is not convenient. Now, I am not talking about the term 'living free' in the National Anthem sense of the words. I am talking about living free in terms of being free from any requirement in our lives that is based on the external influences of American Commercialism and its relentless temptations all in the name of convenience.

Again, freedom in the individual sense has never and will never be convenient, especially if society has anything to say about your existence. And I am sorry to say selecting to live within the false sense of reality commercialism projects means you choose the inconvenient life of convenience.

You see, we all want a sharp pencil. Some of us simply turn the head on our disposable mechanical pencil and Voila!, it is again sharp. Some of us stick our dull pencil into an automatic, electronic pencil sharpener and Voila!, it is again sharp. Another may stick their pencil into a manual pencil sharpener and with his sweat labor turn the sharpener to achieve the same result. Yet another simply says, 'I require no pencil to achieve results.'

Life is of course about choices and we all know how many options there are to achieve similar results of an idea. What we also know is that some choices of action are more convenient than others. What most of us rarely consider, however, is the inconvenience of some of the convenient options in making that choice.

In the analogy of the pencil sharpener, using the disposable, plastic, mechanical pencil may be the most convenient option of the options given on the surface, but the residual effects of that choice are in fact very inconvenient in the long-range perspective of things. You see, eventually, that particular pencil will run out of graphite and will be disposed of and in this moment we all must discover how we have become dependent on purchasing new disposable pencils.

Now, assess for a moment what results come from such a dependency demanding convenience generates. Consider the funds necessary to continue to afford the non-renewable device or the burden on the environment the item has on the land in which it will be tossed aside. How about the materials necessary to produce the device in the first place? Or with other options such as the electrical sharpener and the valuable natural resource energy used as opposed to our own sweat energy? Or even more alarming, what about the dependency we develop on the system for which the device was produced and its requirement in order to function as a participant in that system? These dependencies place our power in someone, or something else's hands.

You might think these words are headed for a collision course with the notion that the digital age of writing would alleviate the requirement for the pencil all together. And you might think that I am implying that our computers (like the one I am using to write this article) deliver both convenience and satisfy our accountability for our actions, but that would be a mistake.

The travesty of convenience is by far much greater of an issue than one may realize.

Consider the overall concern for what we give up when we allow society to persuade us that everything in our lives would be better if we simply succumbed to convenience.

Credit card companies show the check writer slowing down the process but they do not show the consumer who happened to have exact change on hand, or even better, the person who decided they simply didn't require the shopping experience or the items being purchased.

When we allow the modern world to persuade us that life is about having more and to have more we must earn the cash to pay for it, or even worse charge it, we give up much more freedom than if we release ourselves from the feeling that we require it in the first place.

Once we understand and grasp the level of control that these temptations place on us with their conditional love, we can begin to assess the importance of the things we think we require for us to be happy.

The expensive car becomes a ball and chain in the log run. Even if you have the dough to drop on the finance manager's desk to cover the sticker price, consider how the funds could have served you better if you had passed it around to a family who may have benefited by having it accessible to them.

Now, I am not suggesting that we all give up our worldly possessions and retreat to the hills, I am simply saying that requiring convenience in your life is a slippery slope. Once we accept it as our standard of living we lose our power and freedom because we become dependent on a system we do not individually have control over.

I appreciate technology, but technology is at the core not my friend because it offers a strong sense of convenience and a false sense of freedom.

The commercial says, 'I'm free to do what I want, any ol' time.' But this is only until the credit card is maxed out. Then how free really are you?

I stopped into a convenience store the other day. It surely was convenient in order to purchase that losing lottery ticket. As it turns out the real convenience I was awarded with my visit was the learning experience I received.

As I walked out the door a man that I presumed lived without a roof over his head (which I realize was a judgment of him based on how he looked) was standing under the gas station portico. As I approached him I felt the overwhelming desire to pull from my pocket a few bills. As I handed him the funds he gave me a big grin and spoke. He said thank you sir, have a good day.' I walked away toward my car without a concern for how he would spend that money because the gift was unconditional.

What I learned from that experience was the lasting effects sharing the money in my pocket had on ME. The bills dropped on the lottery ticket provided one day of emotional excitement whereas the giving and sharing experience rewarded me with a lasting impression. Giving the cash to the gentleman at the convenience store it turns out was not only beneficial to him but quite possibly even more so for me.

I wonder what I could have done with all that money if I had won the lottery with that ticket.

I wonder what the guy in the new Mercedes Benz would have done if I walked up to him and handed him the cash I had in my pocket and walked away without passing judgment as to how he would spend it. Would he have been offended or appreciative?

So, consider if you will, that the life of convenience you may lead may be preventing you from living the freedom to make real choices in your life that may have lasting positive effects on who you are at your core. It is an inconvenient truth.
© Scott Leuthold. Article used with permission.
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