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Convenience comes at cost of presence

June 11, 2023 by nancy

The optimal amount of friction in a life is not zero. This was made apparent to me in a recent visit to the Isle of Skye, a place where foggy coastlines, rolling hills, and warm hospitality that endeared me to tenderness.

Staying on the Isle instead of Portree, it cost us an extra 20 minutes of driving, but gifted us

  • warm presence of our B&B owners Viv & Steve
  • Shared leisurely mornings with other guests and Viv
  • Recommendations for Skye
  • Knowing that Viv would come pick us up if we ran into car troubles

Instead of getting on a tour bus that would have handled all the left-side driving, we drove ourselves. We definitely had a huge amount of anxiety and stress, mine a steady hum the entire trip lol, but that would’ve costed us

  • Having a memorable lunch in the back of the car with a beautiful view
  • The flexibility of my going to hikes on my own
  • Random pullovers with more beautiful scenery than the designated spots
  • Front row seats to scenic drives on smaller roads
  • Knowing we could rise to the challenge

Skye is laughably small and slow.

  • The small roads made us go slow and careful while driving, and we encounter lots of sheep on the road
  • You could not be served without reservations, so that meant orienting our day plans to make sure we would make dinner, but knowing that the stakes were so high made us appreciate when we did get seated, and honestly, the food on Skye was one of the bigger surprises that delighted us. The quality, intention and experience was more thoughtful than we expected out of a small place like this. Perhaps ordering and preparing food for a set number of people makes it easier to produce that standard of food.
  • The changes in scenery was all the more noticeable, and the fact that there were so many beautiful attractions really conveyed just how special this tiny plot of land was.

I think about the ways this happens at home: a supermarket experience lacks the organic discovery and human interaction of a farmer’s market; having a car makes you miss out on orienting yourself on city streets and interacting with people with very different realities from yours; when we buy something that with some effort and time, we could have learned the skills to do on our own. We always think about what we gain in convenience, and not about what we lose.

Life’s friction and inconvenience makes us depend on each other. When we utilize convenient services that make us more independent, we also feel more dissociated and more lonely from one another.

We don’t always have to do things the hard way, but for the things that matter, we shouldn’t be stingy with our attention. The cost of presence is richly compensated.