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Matthew Clarke

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My Children Disturb Me... and I Love It

Posted: 11/27/2013 1:35 pm

I have a theory. We all deeply want to be disturbed.

Not in the creeped out/emotionally disturbed sense, although I concede there is a section of the population that longs for that too. What I mean is that we all deeply want to be inconvenienced, woken up, bothered, shaken from our natural resting state. We want our lives to be intruded upon.

Now, I know what you are thinking. You're thinking, "People don't want to be disturbed. That's why they invented those little signs you put on hotel room door handles. The guy that invented those things is probably worth billions by now. That's how much people DON'T want to be disturbed." But let's just ignore that very well articulated argument for the moment and get back to my brilliant theory.

You see one day, my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world. As we settled into this new life as a threesome, battling through bleary eyed sleep deprivation, trudging through gutters of poop and spit-up, rummaging through baby books and websites for any nuggets of wisdom that may help decipher this foreign language of cries, screams and gurgles, I had a strange, unsettling realization: "I love this thing, this little bundle of inconvenience, this blob of time sucking. I love it. I love it more than I have ever loved anything before."

Now, obviously we all love our kids. That's just a rule of the universe. It's evolution. If our ancestors didn't love their kids they would have eaten them, or traded them for something else to eat. Either way, the whole species would have died off and I wouldn't be here to write this incredibly fascinating, insightful and charming blog. Tragic.

But at the same time, the love I felt for this baby went completely against a central tenet of modern life: Convenience. According to every commercial I see and every electronic device I own, I want things that will make my life easier, safer, cheaper, more convenient. This baby ticked off none of those boxes. This baby was the opposite of an iPad. It made everything more complicated, made me more vulnerable, made me late for every appointment, and was already costing me a fortune with the promise of costing me a larger fortune, exponentially, year after year, for decades to come. And yet, I was over the moon crazy about her.

This is the root of my theory. This overwhelming interruption to my life, my routine, my sleep patterns, my wallet, this brought me a level of happiness, peace and connection to the world around me that I had never experienced before. And the strange thing is that the more I leaned into it, the more I got my hands dirty, the more I engaged in and embraced this inconvenience, the happier I was.

So maybe the key to happiness isn't convenience, maybe it isn't about making my life easier. Maybe it's about making it harder. Maybe happiness doesn't come from the avoidance of suffering. Maybe happiness comes from embracing suffering.

It is admittedly, just a theory, but maybe it's worth a try; to take those "Do Not Disturb" signs off our doors. Let someone barge in, overturn all the furniture and throw our underwear all over the room. Heck, let them empty our wallets and flush our passports down the toilet. It can't be any worse than having a kid. And people LOVE that!

 

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