Single-Task: Tea Pot, Cup, Water Bottle


I am in my apartment, cleaning up. I’m feeling rushed, so I lift my tea pot, my lacquered Japanese cup, and my water bottle from a table and begin taking them over to the kitchen sink for washing. Because I’m carrying three things I needed to thread the pinky of my right hand through the eye of the water bottle lid while holding the cup in my palm, and at the same time hold the tea pot in my left hand. Halfway to the kitchen sink, I stop. I notice that my chest has tensed up, that my breathing has become subtly squeezed and uncomfortable. I realize that 1) I am feeling stressed out, and 2) I’m feeling stressed out because I’ve got too many things in my hands. I ask myself, What’s the rush? The truth is that there is no rush. I’ve got plenty of time. But if I’ve got lots of time, then why do I have so many things in my hands? The answer: habit. I’m used to multi-tasking, to juggling the complexities of life, to being “efficient.” These reflections all happen in a moment. I turn , head back to the living room, and carefully set down my tea pot, my water bottle, and my cup. Then I take the tea pot over to the sink, walking and knowing that I’m walking. I wash the tea pot out, feeling my body and breath and the sensations of water, soap, hot and cold, as I work. When I’m done with the pot I take separate trips for the cup and the water bottle. But not before noticing that my chest is now feeling relaxed and my breathing is normal again.

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