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The World is Too Much With Us

Text by: Jacque Crosswell Watene

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune,
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
-William Wordsworth
Has this ever happened to you? Things seem to be running smoothly — almost too smoothly. You have a solid week of knowing exactly what to make for dinner. Your gas tank seems as if it's magically always full. You remember to exercise everyday, and you even begin to feel those extra pounds melt away with each PX90 punch and kick. Your closet is full of exactly the right outfits. Your family (for no apparent reason, and you dare not ask) rinses the dinner dishes and even puts them into the dishwasher.

Bliss.

And then—"The world is too much with us."

I can't be the only one who's experienced this kind of aforementioned, inexplicable domestic nirvana, only to find it suddenly combusting in Hell's flames when, out of nowhere, the car won't start (and it's your turn to carpool). You forgot about that automated bill, and now your account is overdrawn. All of a sudden it's 5:30, you're hungry and grouchy, and so is your family, and you realize with terrible dread that if people are going to be fed tonight, it's up to you. Again. One thing after another interrupted your workout schedule, and now you feel like a heffer, because of the two bowls of rocky road ice cream you wolfed down last night (don't judge me—we were talking about you, remember?). Because of the non-workouts and rocky road binge, you have no outfits that fit. And please, don't even get me started on state of your home. That bad? Mine, too.

Believe me, if home is where the heart is, then it stands to reason that cultivating skills in the domestic arts could benefit everyone, whether you are a woman, man, child, married, or single. This is because we all must keep the space where we reside (our homes) a little bit of heaven if we want any peace. And we do want peace. Peace helps us clear our minds so we can think our greatest thoughts. It gives us clarity, and when we have clarity, we have more peace. See the happy cycle?

In moments that peace is lacking and the world is at our throats, there is a soundtrack, constantly playing in the background, though we have become so used to it, we barely tune into the individual frequencies. The soundtrack is the phone ringing every few minutes when you are trying to read a story to your child, or the e-mail that must be answered immediately causing you to forget the pizza (now burnt to a crisp) in the oven. The soundtrack is the doorbell ringing with unexpected visitors when you were just about to hop in the shower. It's the constant sound of commercial jingles, one right after the other, which your toddler is now singing along with (has he really seen it that much?). Yes, he has, and so have you, and you know it.

© Roger Ruth Photography

It was on a morning such as the one mentioned above, that I decided I'd had quite enough of this ugly cycle. This yin-yang dance of domestic delirium followed by domestic disaster. Just when I felt I had figured out how to work with the flow of busy life, I'd get swallowed in its undertow. You know the feeling—when everything you've been carefully juggling collapses all at once, leaving you bewildered at the mad state of affairs. For no other reason than that I was sick of the constant, ceaseless bombardment of the world in the form of telephone, computer, radio, television, magazines, and even books, I decided to quit.

That's right. I quit. I just couldn't take being pulled in so many directions anymore, and I resolved to do something about it.

For one whole day, I declared to my family that we would have absolutely no contact with the outside world, even if we died of sheer boredom. I would love to report here that they took the news rather well, and even praised me for the utter genius of my idea. Alas, it was not so. They whined. They complained. They rolled their eyes. But I would not relent.

© Jessica Ceason Photography

I have to say, in spite of all the initial protestations, that day turned out to be one of the nicest I have ever spent with my family. We actually talked and communicated. We watched the clouds move slowly across the sky and argued over who-saw-what-shape-first. My kids must have been exceptionally bored by mid-morning, because they saw me fervently weeding in the garden, and sat next to me to do the same. And it was… fun. We were weeding and enjoying it. We ate lunch outside in the garden. While my 2-year-old napped, I cleaned out my bedroom closet. Then, because it felt liberating to toss out so many items of clothing, shoes, and accessories that no longer served me, I decided to do the same in my kitchen. I scrubbed and cleared my fridge. It was a joy to behold the glory of organized pots and containers, filled only with fresh food. (I'll go ahead and leave out the embarrassing details of what I found in the back of my fridge.) Onto the kitchen pantry.

At this point, my two older children were laughing and chasing each other in the backyard (instead of playing Xbox games, thank you very much!), and I truly felt as though I had recaptured some lost part of myself. I felt centered. Grounded. Content. I didn't allow myself to worry about unchecked e-mails and voicemails. I didn't have to say, "Turn the T.V. down, please!", and didn't have to feel guilty about how much television my kids had watched. Because I knew exactly what was in my refrigerator and pantry, I knew exactly what I would make for dinner.

I have since reclaimed several such days. I call it a "media fast," and I now consider this to be as important to my body, mind, and spirit as the spiritual practice of fasting from food. We don't realize how much we constantly give of
© Jessica Ceason Photography
ourselves to outside sources. Our cell phones keep us on duty as friend, spouse, employer/employee, parent, child, consumer, etc. 24/7. When do we take the time to be on-call for ourselves? How many thoughts get shoved into the messy closets of our minds because we haven't allowed ourselves the time to quietly clear them out? How many potential moments with our nearest and dearest are missed because we don't claim that time for our own? Too many, I say.

Now is the time to reclaim your domestic crown, you Majesties of your own lives! Fearlessly take back the time that has been stolen from your days by way of incessant media, and spend it as you deem worthy. Our days are meant to run smoothly (with few bumps along the way). We are meant to enjoy life, not dread it.

Try a media fast for one day, and see if you don't find a little nirvana amidst days that were once chaos and hell. You may even discover that you agree with Einstein as he reminds us, "The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."

Anyone up for some creativity?