I spent approximately eight minutes picking out toilet paper in the grocery store the other day. I didn’t exactly time it, and really – that seems like a conservative estimate (it felt like an eternity).
I can’t explain exactly why.
Well, yes I can. So many nuances – double rolls, single ones, soft versus strong (I decidedly don’t need ‘strong’ toilet paper), flowers versus some kind of ridge-like texture… And maybe I’m having some misplaced residual trauma from the recent pandemic-driven shortages?
I mean, perhaps there was a time in the last year-and-a-half-ish where I found myself gripping my then-5-year-old’s hand, speed walking with laser-focused determination through a parking lot, and jumping in my car to race to the next store in hopes that just one, just one, bastion of plastic-wrapped hope would be left on the shelf. I even drove to town early to beat the rush of retirees that frequent the local grocery stores just for that purpose. They’re faster than they look.
But no, that’s not really the reason either.
If I’m being honest, what was really causing this entirely unnecessary conundrum was finding just the right balance between cost and comfort.
I of course won’t go the cheapest route (don’t ask me why I know not to do that), but, at the moment of decision, I don’t really want to spend a significant amount of money (you know, in comparison to other necessities like water, milk, veggie burgers and so on) on, well, toilet paper. Go figure.
Because as I’ve learned (again, don’t ask me how, but I will say that I drink on average about a gallon of water a day), you typically do get what you pay for when it comes to this commodity. And even though I was rather annoyed with my indecision and careful scrutinizing at the time, it didn’t really hit me why it bothered me that I spent eight minutes of my life I’ll never get back attending to such a frivolous task.
It didn’t really hit me, in fact, until a couple of days later when my 6-year-old daughter came walking very intentionally (I could hear her coming with very deliberate footsteps – a sure sign that some proclamation is about to be made) into my room and announced, “Angel Soft is NOT soft!”
Hm. You mean I spent that time and mental energy and it was a fail anyway? Furthermore, and more importantly, was eight minutes of my life really not worth more than the few more dollars I could have paid to ensure a good outcome? Why did I do that, anyway?
And then I started wondering… Where else am I doing this in my life?
What I mean, specifically, is essentially wasting my most valuable resource (time) sweating details that are really so trifling. I know I don’t do it in all areas of my life, thankfully. I keep fresh flowers in my home, I spend more to buy organic food whenever possible, my kid goes to a great school, I go to the pricier gas station…
But I do think there’s something there. It’s not about buying the cheap(er) toilet paper, necessarily (although I’ve since changed my thinking on this), but rather the process behind it. And that the outcome was that it was even worth a fraction of the energy I gave it.
To be clear, I’m not promoting frivolity or financial irresponsibility. But what I am promoting is not wasting precious moments and energy becoming lost in the minutia of details that ultimately don’t affect the bottom line.
I’m committed to this whole “living as if” thing, meaning living into my future and being the kind of person who doesn’t need or want to spend eight minutes picking out toilet paper (among other way loftier, far more amazing things). And, acting accordingly right now.
It’s kind of a new experiment for me, and it’s interesting to take somewhat of a clinical approach to my life and sit in the role of observer. I don’t believe that adopting the mindset and attitude of my future, evolved self only revolves around financial decisions and material goods, it’s far deeper than that, of course.
But, I do have this little mantra that I strive to live by – the way you do anything is the way you do everything.
If I’m lost in the meaningless details over things that don’t ultimately matter or benefit the greater good, I run the risk of missing those bigger, more meaningful revelations and moments in time. And, not only is time precious, but energy is precious. I want to honor it and spend it in those ways that drive my vision forward, that manifest my dreams in real, tangible ways.
So, a toilet paper decision-making process may not seem noteworthy, but the thought process behind it and resultant actions definitely are. Duly noted, toilet paper. Well played.