We are the poodles of human history.
I came to this conclusion as I sat at Starbucks with my family discussing the new “Oprah Chai Tea Latte” (hot or iced) and the eventual end of the world. (The first topic may have prompted our foray into the second.) At any rate, the trials of Armageddon eventually led us to the consideration of trials in general.
Namely, many of the things we call trials, aren’t.
We live in the Age of Convenience. We don’t have cell phones: we have smart phones. We don’t have online shopping; we have one-click online shopping. (Clicking twice is ridiculous.) We don’t have one-stop Giant Monster Galactic Super Stores; we have eleven thousand locations of Giant Monster Galactic Super Stores. (Because we’ll shop there, but only if it’s close.) We have cars that talk to us and tell us where to go and park for us once we get there. We have vacuums that run on their own and e-books that don’t require page turning and social media outlets that suggest “friends” for us so we don’t have to find them on our own. It is as though the goal of modern technology is to eliminate effort, and our perception of trials is becoming skewed in the process.
Guys, we’re starting to confuse hard with inconvenient.
I know this because I’m one of the worst offenders. You see, I love baked goods. Like, I really, really love baked goods. Cookies! Brownies! Cupcakes! Birthday cake! Cookie cake! Pie! I am an equal opportunity pastry lover. I once made a trip to the grocery store at 10:30 at night just because I wanted cake. And I ate it straight out of the box. With a plastic fork. In my car. In the parking lot.
I know I need to eat less sugar. I know I need to overcome my cookie cake addiction. I know I can say “no” to the donuts in the back room at work. But I haven’t. Why?
Because… um… it’s hard?
Storming the beaches at Normandy was hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Raising kids while working two jobs just to make ends meet is hard.
Not buying the three-pound bag of Gummy Bears at Target is not hard.
We live in a culture of instant gratification. We’re trained to think that any delay or effort required to get what we want is somehow a travesty. We’re groomed to desire ease and comfort. Our fickle cravings are coddled. Abstaining from what we want in that moment is considered a great—and often unnecessary—sacrifice. We term things as “hard” because saying something is “hard” is more acceptable than saying that it’s “inconvenient.” One places the responsibility on the object itself; the other places the responsibility on us.
The truth is if we want something badly enough, we’ll inconvenience ourselves for it. It’s why Lisa wakes up at 3:30 in the morning so she can chalk off her long runs before work. It’s why, twice a week, Roblyn drives an hour and a half each way to coach her 5K training team. It’s why Michelle trained for the Chicago Marathon by homeschooling her six kids during the day and tucking them into bed at night before embarking on twenty-mile long runs at 10:00 p.m. And it’s why I should have the guts to step away from the cookie cake, if only for a month.
Convenience isn’t bad. It’s also not all it’s cracked up to be. After all, great things happen when we inconvenience ourselves.
Let’s do inconvenient things.
Amy L. Marxkors is the author of The Lola Papers: Marathons, Misadventures, and How I Became a Serious Runner. Her second book, Powered By Hope: The Teri Griege Story, will be released in 2014. Click here to receive Amy's weekly article via email.