Today has been a busy day in Room 2422 at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel! It turns out day six is when all the things happen…
First, you get a clean supply of bedding and towels, left at your door, so you can change your bed (you’d think this would happen at the midway point, on day 7, but that’s a COVID testing day and they probably want to spread the excitement about for the residents 😉)
Secondly, it’s about this point where you begin to fear you are more in danger of contracting scurvy, than COVID, so you branch out and order fresh fruit and veg* to be delivered from the local supermarket.
Thirdly, you realise that the view from the window is way better than the current view from your ‘armchair’ (it’s not an armchair but let’s not get too technical) and you change your whole room around!
Like I said, it’s a busy day.
And in this busiest of days, I’ve been thinking about two things…
The first thing I realised is that I found myself thinking, ‘gosh, there’s so much to do today I don’t know if I’ll have time to do it AND write my blog…’
The second is how different life feels when we change our view and alter our perspective.
But first the busy-ness thing. So, changing the bed and towels took me about 20 minutes. Twenty minutes out of a day where I have nowhere else to be and nothing pressing to do (I mean, I could do my tax return, but let’s save that for a far less busy day!!). And yet, that automatic feeling of ‘I’ve got soooo much to do’, felt so real. And I guess that’s because it is a familiar one.
When clergy greet one another (maybe other professions do the same), the first response to ‘how are you?’ is always ‘oh, y’know, BUSY’, (shortly before talking about funerals, always funerals). It’s like we make some altar out of over-activity and sacrifice ourselves on it, day after day. Like, would we have any self-worth if we weren’t always running around, doing all the things? And even if we aren’t, would there be anything worse than people knowing?! Even if we’re not busy, surely people need to think we are, because the only alternative to that is being lazy, right? Nothing in between.
Busy = good
Lazy = bad 🤦🏼♀️
In my first couple of days here, I realised I was always, like always, doing more than one thing at a time. I couldn’t seem to help it. Like, I was watching a documentary as well as playing candy crush (yes, some people do still play that!). Or I was showering whilst thinking about what today’s blog might be. Or, yep, scrolling through emails or social media, or images of wedding flowers, during morning prayer. Always at least 2 things, sometimes more. Busy. The enemy of peace I reckon! Sound familiar? What might happen if we paid all our attention to the one thing we were doing, at a time? What if multi-tasking were outlawed?! I’m trying it – repeatedly having to stop myself and re-concentrate on the one task (it’s so hard!), but I’m trying it. Wanna join me in that?
And then there was the second thing…how different life can feel if we change our view and our perspective.
When I ‘moved in’ (feels a more positive framing than ‘when I was first incarcerated’…!) my room was laid out in a certain way. The furniture was evenly spaced around the room. It looked tidy and smart, very practical. I think it was about day 2, whilst trying to figure out which piece of hotel furniture could double most easily as a makeshift altar for mass, that I moved the desk, so it faced the window rather than a wall. Turning the desk meant I got a great view of the Harbour Bridge – if I looked to the right (or a building site if I looked straight ahead). Doing that changed my prayers too, because now I was facing a huge sprawling city, and I’m on the 24th floor, so I could genuinely reach out and pray God’s blessings right over the top of them all. The room became slightly more cluttered and looked less pristine, but the benefits far outweighed that.
Then, today, whilst moving my bed to change it, I realised that with a bit of manoeuvring I could position my chair in another corner and have ACTUAL sunlight on my face, a great view of the Bridge, and see the clear blue skies. Why had I not noticed this before? Why had I been content to sit on my chair, opposite a wall without even a picture on (and facing the bin?!)?? so now the area around the window is cluttered with furniture, BUT I have a big clear area where I can work out (rather than clattering into the footstool like I have been doing – it’s a wonder I’ve not done myself an injury!), and I have sunshine and the most amazing skyline Sydney has to offer.
These two thoughts seemed unrelated but, as I write, I can see they are super related. If we took less time to be busy, like if we stopped building our self-worth on the size of our To Do list and the number of bits of paper falling out of our diaries… if we did that, and focussed on one task at a time, might we be quicker to notice where we are settling for staring – proverbially – at blank walls and stinking bins, rather than enjoying the beauty that the Creator lays on for us each day?
And maybe it’s OK for me to say this, from the ‘luxury’ of quarantine, but maybe it’s something you just want to think about and weigh, because I could’ve let every last sunset and every last blue sky (and every last workman in his scary lift thing going up past my window), I could’ve let all that pass me by because I was too busy, or because I was looking the wrong way.
I hope this is a lesson I keep with me when life genuinely is busy again but, for now, I’m just going to stop writing and watch this beautiful shimmer of gold evening light disappear off this hi-rise building as it sets. 💛
*for those of you who know me, you’ll be pleased to know that Australia also sells Dettol wipes, so my bathroom will be gleaming again, very shortly! 🤣