A slight smell of must lingered in the air. A cool sense of damp touched my skin in that little utility room just off the basement. It drove Amelia crazy each time I went down to walk the treadmill or do the laundry. She’d meow urgently at the bi-fold door until I left it ajar and she could commence her inspection.
To me, the smell was never so strong to cause immediate alarm. Why not put it off? The dampness was never so great to cause puddling or any signs, really, of actual build up. Why not tend to things more pressing?
One day last month, after my workout, after Amelia’s latest inspection, I bit the bullet and decided to move the dehumidifier the 20 feet from where it stood, unused the past two years, to that annoying antechamber where it might find value. (Are December resolutions are thing?)
It took little physical effort to push it across the tiled basement floor on its tiny metal wheels, which squeaked for attention. It took little mental effort to decide where in the small room to place it—not too far from the door that it couldn’t be plugged in, not too close to flammables that it risked my life. Effort expended, the humidifier was set to work.
It seems silly, writing out the process. Seeing evidence of how truly small were the obstacles to this logical solution. Unexamined, simple little steps incubate in our minds into what we soon decide, without thinking, are true barriers to our resolutions. They keep us from keeping commitments.
Having jumped the truly tiny hurdles last month, the dehumidifier is now in place. Producing a full bucket of water every few days. From a light musty smell and a slight feeling of damp—actual matter emerges.
It’s just like meditation. The mind builds many small obstacles to daily committed practice. Shifting from most days to truly daily. Wouldn’t it be harsh, to be so disciplined? Increasing from 20-ish minutes to 60 solid. Isn’t that unreasonable? (Of course many spend that long in traffic, watching tv, surfing the internet each day). Expanding from once a day to twice or throughout. What am I, a monk?
Deepened commitment to practice seemed like a good idea in theory—a little was useful, why not more? But, like setting up the humidifier: how could I ever surmount these big, make believe, in-my-mind hurdles? Was it worth it? Was I?
One day last fall, I finally just decided to take the small amount of time it takes to make a plan for regular practice. Then I gave the minimal mental effort of following the plan. Then I troubleshot the parts of the plan that needed it. Then I put in the energy required to keep the commitment. Simple little steps. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Now, as I show up regularly, most days the effects are imperceptible. Barely drops in a bucket. As I continue day after day regardless, full gallons materialize, ready to be dumped down the drain and out of my life. The air less damp and that much more breathable. Resolutions well made; effort well spent.