Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Tao of caring

1. not paying enough attention to what one does
2. not exact, accurate, or thorough
3. done or said heedlessly or negligently; unconsidered
4. not caring or troubling; having no care or concern; unconcerned

My husband and I had a 'discussion' last night about carelessness. We didn't agree what it meant and so I'm still thinking about it today. I refuse to be called careless. Sure, I'm a klutz, distractible, a multi-tasker who sometimes needs to slow down, but not careless. Because my definition is #4 up there and some of #3. I think it's a pretty negative thing to not care. It sounds like I'd be running through life kicking over vases and smashing my car into the car in the parking space in front of me who took up 1 and 1/2 spots with his tiny Yugo while I try to fit into what remains of my parking space.

That's so not me. I spend endless hours of the day caring 'too much.' I agonize over peoples opinions, try to anticipate their needs, smooth the wrinkles out, clear the pathways and hope that no one ever has to ask me to do something for them that I haven't already done. When someone is waiting for my parking space? I haul arse to get out of that spot, even if it means spilling coffee on myself in the rush to stick it in the holder. If I knock into someone while passing them in a store? You can bet I apologize, even if it's their fault. (And can I ask why people don't care to move out of MY way once in a freakin' while? I mean, I am not large in diameter by any means. My purse is of average size. Give me a few inches!)

But the endless bruises on my thighs, shoulders and sometimes head gives my klutziness away. I consider it an inherited trait as my mom couldn't ride a bike without wiping out at least once every time. And it was always when she borrowed my bike. Not that she'd tell me she'd fallen on my bike again, I'd just walk out the next day to ride it to school and the handle brake would be knocked over to the inside of the handlebar. Hmm. Wonder how that happened? Anyway, I consider the klutz also to be due to my multitasking mind. I'm usually off to do something rather quickly when I do run into the baby gate/doorknob/doorframe/nothing or trip over the steps/doorjamb/completely flat floor. Does multitasking make me careless? I don't think so.

My husband, on the other hand, has cultivated a personality characteristic that I think took him years. I'm not sure you are necessarily born 'careful.' I think he chose, early on in life, to carry himself so carefully through the world that he is not only highly unlikely to ever trip or run into anything, but he is also preternaturally quiet when moving through a 1914 house where every floorboard squeaks. I respect this talent. But I think it takes a lot of effort. By now it's second nature to him, but I imagine at the beginning he had to think all the time about where he put his feet, where his arms and hands were as he walked, how to navigate tight spaces and whether every hair on his head was in place or not. (Just kidding!) Just thinking about that exhausts me.

I won't do that and in a way I respect my life choice. I run through life talking a bit too loud, feeling free, laughing at my bruises, arms flying in whatever direction. It doesn't mean that when I break something or dent the minivan for the 715th time on the stupid narrow garage door opening I don't feel bad. I do feel bad. It sucks to have dents. If I break something truly important like an family heirloom I do agonize. But I can tell you that if it's a hole in the wall that can be repaired, a glass that can be replaced or heck, even a nice object that can't be replaced, I will not be beating myself up for days. Life is to be enjoyed. Houses are to be lived in. Things are to be used and sometimes broken. And apparently, minivans are mine to destroy. Life goes on. Does that sound careless?


  1. That cracked me up. I'm the wrong person to talk to about breaking things though, because I am a walking catastrophy. If you don't believe me, ask my mother how much glue is holding all her "priceless glass things" together.

    High Five fellow "breaker"!

    I hope you have a great day!

  2. Whew! It's nice to know I'm not the only one.

    I also suffer from acute multi-tasking syndrome and I'm pretty sure what you speak of is just one of its many side effects. It's not on purpose, it's just how my brain makes sense of things. Unfortunately it occasionally comes at the expense of my car, the walls and sometimes the kids (not all at one time, though).

  3. I think in your position multitasking is a must and come with that might be carelessness, but if you can avoid that little dent in the van by doing only that thing at that particular moment then maybe it would be good to become a single tasking person then! Great post!

  4. you are not careless; if you are careless, then I am careless because you described me perfectly; your hubby is also A LOT like my hubby; at least we are not alone in our carelessness.....

    you sound like a very caring person!


  5. People who never break/dent/spill/overturn things have the luxury of not doing so. The rest of us are WORKING (at home, at the office, etc.).

  6. I have to agree with you. Live. Love. Enjoy. Apologize when you make a mistake. Move on. Think about your space. Think about your choices and how they will effect others. This is the opposite of careless. I think carelessness is almost deliberate.