Every now and again a newsletter or a friend will send me over to Kevin Kelly‘s website (hat tip to Tim Ferris’ newsletter for this gem). He has offered 68 bits of unsolicited advice as a token for his own birthday. Go have a gander. They will amuse if nothing else.
But I actually found myself surprised by certain snippets, and decided that they bore a greater discussion. Today’s tidbit: If you are looking for something in your house, and you finally find it, when you’re done with it, don’t put it back where you found it. Put it back where you first looked for it.
This one kind of blew my mind.
It is intuitive, yet breathtakingly unexpected. At least, it wasn’t obvious to me. Every time I have stumbled upon a sought for item my response is that I was simply mistaken in where that thing belonged.
BUT IT’S MY FREAKING HOUSE!! How can I possibly be wrong about where something in my own home “belongs?” Either the last person to use it didn’t put it back where it should have been, or I put it in the least logical place for that object. And thus, I must fix this situation so as to save time later.
If I had just taken a few minutes to return the quested for item to it’s most rational locale I would be cutting the hunt for it short the next time it’s in use. I mourn the number of hours this could have saved me, and exalt in the minutes to be gained in the future. I also anticipate a great deal of yelling at people who continue to “put stuff away” in obscure places, e.g. “Stop leaving the measuring cups in the silverware drawer. They are cups! THEY BELONG IN THE CUPBOARD!!”
Beyond the basics of where the duct tape got stashed, I wonder if we don’t also do this to our peace and happiness. A nature walk- ocean preferable but not required, an afternoon of quiet reading, a few golden hours spent building momentum on an important (not necessarily urgent) project, cloud watching, star gazing, cuddling under a blanket with someone I love, dancing in the kitchen to Mongolian folk metal (yeah, it’s a thing, go look up The Hu) are all pursuits that bring me deep satisfaction.
Yet after I’ve found them, often by accident rather than design, they get returned to drawers marked Later and When I Have Time and After the Work is Done. When I stumble upon such pleasures the relief is visceral, and makes me a much more bearable person to interact with. But they always get tucked back into the invisible spaces I discovered them.
Such precious commodities deserve pride of place at the top of To-Do lists. They should be visibly displayed on refrigerator doors with labels like Necessary, Do It Now, and Cannot Wait. These mindful daily loves are what make the rest of our lives worth living.
So the next time you find your bliss, thank Kevin Kelly, and put it in the first place you looked. It’ll be there waiting the next time you need it.