I was a thief

Allowing someone else to unfairly take care of your basic needs is theft. It is stealing their time, energy, and their life dreams. This includes your future self, your housemates, and partner especially one who stays home. 

How this applies to cubicleMonks:
There is daily work that isn’t sexy and does not feel meaningful.  

A completed blog post feels much better than a clean toilet. Learning a new skill seems so much more fulfilling than folded laundry.   

I have come to learn that the above statements are actually not true. But that is an article for another day. It was these false truths that lead me into one of my biggest blockers of truly becoming a cubicleMonk.

The focus I want to give on this article was how I was blocked for many years from doing true meaningful work. I hope that I’m the anomaly and that most cubicleMonks don’t fall into this trap that I will try to explain.

Here is a common pattern:

  1.  I wake up with energy. 
  2. I jump right into purpose driven work. 
  3. I don’t pay attention to time, family, or own physical needs. 
  4. I get hangry and go find some food and I can’t cook because the pans are dirty. 
  5. I get frustrated. 
  6. This causes me to say hurtful things out loud to family or internally to myself. 
  7. This creates separation from the ones I love and me feeling bad about myself.
  8. I shutdown. 
  9. I don’t help clean the dishes in the evening. 
  10. Wake up with energy. 
  11. Rinse, wash, repeat but without the rinsing or washing
  12. Eventually a major crash with purpose work halted and potentially real hurt in the family.

The above destructive pattern can happen with any living situation: alone, roommates, family.  But the problem turns into a tragedy when my partner is not following her dreams because she woke up and started doing chores. This is the real theft. Her creations never got a chance. Of course, everyone owns their own actions and my partner is very strong. But her purpose was caring for a grieving family which included allowing her love to follow his purpose. 

This thievery also applies to me whether I live alone or in family. When basic chores are not completed, they don’t go away. By choosing to not take care of basic needs, I am stealing from my future self. In fact, one of my motivators for doing chores is that I don’t want to burden my future self.  

There is another more subtle blocker that deserves being called out. I don’t believe we can truly do purpose work on the backs of others. Our subconscious feels this imbalance and we become blocked. We can’t be authentic and dive deep when the bed isn’t made or someone else in unfairly cleaning the toilets.

I send a huge word of caution for those families where only one person is earning income. In this situation, there is a power imbalance that without careful attention leads to abusive stealing. Unless it is very clearly spelled out each person’s responsibilities, this thievery can go unseen. Assumptions can be made on both sides that the other person is just doing their work when in fact one of you is turning into a maid. There is a certain balance of chores between the person generating income and the person sacrificing by staying home. But this equation does not apply when purpose work enters the equation. Tasks need to be balanced in a better way since purpose work is a choice and closer to a hobby. 

More important, it is critical that all members of the family have the equal opportunity to follow purpose driven work. Even this gets sticky because “purpose work” can be so different for different people. I’ve found these equations can be balanced but it takes a lot of communication and also flexibility as life is always changing and it isn’t realistic to have a static task list for everyone.   

It sounds so basic and hopefully it is for most, but purpose work can’t happen by sacrificing other people’s time and energy including your future self. Not paying attention to this especially in a family will block a cubicleMonk.

Personal Story:
Writing this article is painful. But it is critical because I was blocked from following my purpose while I was blindly stealing from my wife while I pursued my own noble ambitions. 

An example is my wife found a class called Awakening Joy and she shared it with me. I thought it looked amazing so I jumped right in. It wasn’t until years later I learned that she also wanted to take the class but didn’t feel she had the time as she struggled to keep up with the daily chores. I was BLIND to all of this. My joy overtook her joy and this is a painful regret.

I could not pursue purpose with such huge blind spots. 

Doing dishes and laundry were never a strength of mine. But when it was time for me to go back to work after our son died, we fell into an ugly pattern. In the early days, I could barely handle my day job. When I wasn’t at the office, I was in comfort mode as a way to work through the paralyzation of grief. I do not judge anyone including myself or my partner during this deep grief but basically my wife turned into a maid, cook, accountant, plumber, teacher, Mrs Fix It, etc. We were doing the best we knew how. We thought we had no choice because I was earning the income needed to meet our financial needs. She would support me by whatever means. This was tragic. The emotional debt we created in this imbalance outweighs any financial burden that my income prevented. We are still unraveling these patterns.

As I learned to live with the daily grief, I had intense energy to do meaningful work. As I gained energy, I put it into meaningful activities like reading, learning meditation, journaling, writing, and taking classes like the one above. This was a trap and mistake. I avoided chores because I was either tired or had more important work to do. I was blind to this pattern for many years. I was blind to my stealing and this was a critical blocker for me doing meaningful work. It still breaks my heart of what was stolen from the love of my life.

Both sides of a partnership have responsibility to give and receive and also be a part of the conversation around balance. My partner is independent and makes her choices of what she does with her time and energy. But this didn’t prevent the theft. She was taking care of the basic needs of the family during these dark times as her purpose. She chose with a full heart. But there is a big power differential having my name on the paycheck. I always considered we were both earning the pay together. But this isn’t true as the check was made out to me and I had the power. Because of this, her choices were limited like not taking an empowering class. This differential allowed the theft even though I wasn’t aware. 

This story is quite unique I hope. But it applies in all situations when basic chores are not completed before doing meaningful work. It applies daily if not hourly with one’s own self.  I am stealing from my future self if I don’t do the dishes. If I leave dishes in the sink at night because I’m too tired, when I wake up I will have dishes to do instead of writing. This is stealing. 

I can’t meditate in the morning if I haven’t made the bed. How can I calm my mind while at the same time allowing my future self to go to bed in a messy bed? 

Leaving chores for later in the pursuit of purpose work is stealing.

There was a break taken while writing this article to scrub a toilet. An example of how noble pursuits can help improve our daily lives. .

The action:
Look deeply at the family dynamics. Is there balance? Not only for chores but also pursuits of dreams. Come up with agreements of responsibilities before purpose work is started.Do these things before starting meaningful work. 

Thoughts, questions, ideas? Please reach out to me: cubiclemonks@gmail.com