Already an Obstacle Course

Life is already an obstacle course, and when you’re adding your own impediments (thinking they’re helping), you really crazy it up. You make it harder to even just cross the room. You should not bring more items and hurdles to the obstacle course.
— Anne Lamott, Some Assembly Required

I am trying to form a new habit, which is to put my phone in the kitchen junk drawer each evening when TJ gets home from work, and to leave it there until after the kids are in bed. These few hours of phone-out-of-sight is one way I’m choosing not to bring another item to the obstacle course.


Our house during the hours of 5:30-8:30 each evening are crazy, noisy, and busy, and when I add the craze, noise, and busyness from the outside world that my phone allows in, I am doing us all a disservice. I am more distracted from the people and tasks at hand, and I continue to feed myself the lie that what is out there is more exciting and fulfilling than what is inside myself and inside my own family.

I want to be better about living in the uneventful space of ordinariness, with nothing special except tonight we had a thought-provoking conversation over dinner about the logic of tax brackets, and we reviewed the old poem How Did You Die? by Edmund Vance Cooke. I see I have to practice, not the poem, but the parameter of being present to my people and not to my phone.

When I continue to give myself “freedom” to use my phone at all hours of the day and night, without any real restrictions, I am fulfilling Annie’s prediction about “making it harder to even just cross the room.” The siren call of my phone as I walk past it lying on the island is hard to say no to again and again, which is why I find Gretchen Rubin’s thoughts on habits so helpful and encouraging.

…the real key to habits is decision making – or, more accurately, the lack of decision making. A habit requires no decision from me, because I’ve already decided…I decide, then I don’t decide; mindfully, then mindlessly.
— Gretchen Rubin, Better Than Before

I am deciding in favor of my family. I want our happy busy evening times to be protected spaces, no longer open to outside people, places, and things, if only for those three hours. My kids are ahead of me because their brains haven’t been hijacked by technology, and on top of that, they already think obstacle courses are fun. I’m going to put away my Apple impediment and practice running the course with them.