My daughter is away at college, so I drove her slightly older car recently, after a snowfall. Why get mine all slushy? After a few hours, I sent this text to my husband:
Of course I was joking, but it does make one think. If I’m so accustomed to starting my car with the touch of a button (after unlocking the door simply by approaching it), what other “physical activity” has been engineered out of my life? Answer (but you knew this): a lot. A whole lot. The actual “strug” may be that we rarely encounter any physical struggles at all.
But I think about things like movement, so I work to engineer some back into my life. I do errands on foot whenever possible, walk two dogs, haul giant bags of dog food from store to home, and make it a rule to always fetch my own reading glasses. (Do not laugh at the latter until you wear them and realize how they are never where you need them. I estimate that my Fitbit registers a good 800 steps per day just in glasses-acquisition movement. In a just world, such activity would offset the midlife metabolic dip. But no.)
Also, I clean our house. Not with an apron and a feather duster, but with loud music and as much inefficiency as possible. I dust and mop and windex (that’s a verb, right?) and vacuum and haul crap from one end of the house to the other.
To be clear: I do not judge you for paying someone else to clean your house. I have time on my hands. My job is more of a “joblet,” as it is quite part-time. My kids range from largely to fully self-sufficient. And I still outsource PLENTY of stuff, from cooking (our restaurant expenditures are just stupid) to the more tedious yard work (love to rake and shovel snow; hate to mow, mulch and pull weeds).
But cleaning the house is really quite an amazing way to get a lot of functional movement. There is squatting and bending and reaching overhead and lifting and pushing and pulling and wiping and swearing-at-those-lazy-children and folding and shuffling of playlists. It’s all there, and I want to maintain my ability to do all of those movements, for as long as possible.
What simple physical tasks might you be able to bring back into your day? Let’s face it: it’s not like most modern conveniences have given us back a ton of leisure time—or at least we haven’t taken it. Do you just sit around with your feet up while your washer and dryer do their thing because those machines took the place of three hours of rock-beating and hanging clothes on the line to dry? Do you tell your boss you’re kicking back with your feet up because that report would’ve taken twice as long to produce with a manual typewriter?
I thought not. So maybe we bring back some of the physical stuff our bodies need (to be clear: not washing clothes on rocks) and see what happens?