© 2008 theilr, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

© 2008 theilr, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

Sometimes I work at the desk in my office with a separate keyboard so I’m not hunched over my laptop.

But sometimes I like to work in the living room, where I have the desk my daughter left behind when she moved out, so I can enjoy the sunshiney view and the bird feeder outside the front window. I don’t have two computers, but I do keep a second keyboard at the second desk.

And then there are the days I do best writing in a coffee shop or the library. It’s annoying to get to those places and discover I don’t have reading glasses with me or I didn’t pack the ear buds that let me choose my own music to work by in a public place. The truth is I keep inexpensive reading glasses in practically every room in my house and purse and briefcase, and I own four sets of ear buds.

I keep office supplies in both desks and also in the briefcase I carry when I leave the house to work. And in the TV room where I sometimes take care of random details in the evenings are more pens and pads and sticky notes and a lap desk.

I have a second power cord for my computer so I don’t have to undo the careful cord arrangement in my main office when I take my laptop somewhere else. I used to have two cords for my phone, but then I got a new phone and the old cords don’t fit. I haven’t gotten around to buying a supplementary cord for the new phone, but I’m sure I will.

I have an issue with my neck that sometimes feels better with a neck pillow. So I have a neck pillow. Well, three, so that if I get comfy in one room I don’t have to schlep through the house wondering where I left my neck pillow.

Okay, fine, I confess that I have two—or three or four—of lots of incidental items. Mostly my goal is not to have to depend on my unreliable memory about what to gather for a successful transition.

These are all small things and I don’t feel they are particularly wasteful.

But they are convenient. Lately all my duplicate conveniences make me reflect on how easily we come to expect convenience and mobility. We don’t like waiting, or extra steps, or reaching for something only to remember it’s elsewhere. I very much include myself in this we.

Here are three lessons I’m trying to remember these days as I live the duplicate life.

  1. Always be grateful. I am not entitled to two of something so much as privileged to have two. Don’t over-define the word need so that there is no space for gratitude.
  2. Maintain a purpose. If having a spare computer cord makes me more efficient about where and when I work, then it’s a tool. When I find myself digging through drawers of old stuff I keep “just in case,” it’s time to clear things out.
  3. Stuff is just stuff. The older I get, the more I believe this. I’m sentimental about a few things I own, but ultimately even those items are just stuff. Convenience and mobility should never replace looking into the eyes of people I love and slowing down long enough to hear what they say.

Enjoy your conveniences. But lift your eyes to what life is really all about.