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02:20 pm: The Efficiency Dilemma
Some months ago, I talked to derbyhat about a revelation I'd had: most of my life has been oriented toward efficiency. The fastest way to do things, get places, organize stuff, whatever. In our culture, time seems as precious a commodity as money (well, almost), so efficiency is highly valued. We measure companies and countries by productivity, valuing those that get more done with less.

I read somewhere that the best way to find the most efficient way to do something is to get a lazy man* to do it.

Doing things the efficient (aka lazy) way is not, of course, always the best way to do them. Rachel Ray and the loathsome Sandra Lee spring to mind as examples I don't necessarily want to follow. And there are so many things where the process is as enjoyable as the product or destination. I knit, for heaven's sake, and there are few less efficient things you can do (I also do cross-stitch, which is worse).

Still, there remain strong impulses and rewards for efficiency, for conserving resources, for minimizing energy expended.

And my life has been strongly focused toward that minimizing process. I do errands all at once (and when conserving fuel is even more important than ever, I think that's A Good Thing). I carry everything up or down stairs that I can carry. I get everything from the fridge at once to assemble a meal (all I can picture is Rachel Ray, clutching a pile of ingredients from her studio cupboard so she doesn't have to, y'know, turn around to get more). I'm pretty darned efficient.

Which brings me to my dilemma: efficiency burns fewer calories. It's supposed to. The whole point is to minimize energy expenditure.

So really, my being fat is a cultural problem. HA!

I do wonder, though, as Teddy zooms around. He'll try to carry a bunch of things at once, but it clearly doesn't bother him if he has to go back for a second (or seventh) trip. He loves running back and forth.

I hate running back and forth. I feel like a (minor) failure if I forget something upstairs and I have to go back for it. (Too, Teddy is never taking his seventh trip when he's late for work.)

It's not that I never enjoy "extraneous" movement. I love dancing and would very rarely prefer to sit if there's dancing to be done. I like yoga and t'ai chi and walking and swimming. I have a hard time making the time for any of those when there's so much else to do. Being tired most of the time doesn't help me get off my ass either.

Peter has a different perspective. He's lazier than I in some ways (hateshatesHATES forgetting things and having to go back), but much less so in others. In the Czech Republic, many errands are done on foot, both because fewer people have cars (and gas is wicked expensive) and because the places where errands are done are generally close by and close to each other.

I hope that we're able to nurture Teddy's love of movement for movement's sake, and that I, especially, can learn from him to nurture my own.

* The sexism comes from the source that I can't remember, not me. I fully believe that any woman - particularly me - is at least as capable of laziness as any man.

Current Location: Boston
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative


Date:June 29th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)

Zoom-zoom Teddy

There's a particular gene for loving to run around, and he sure didn't get it from his highly-efficient Grandma. (Who me? Take two steps when one would do? Save energy! I'm almost green!)
But go to the same store day after day? Ring any bells?
[User Picture]
Date:June 30th, 2008 12:08 am (UTC)

bells ringing...

oh yes.
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