Inspiring mediocrity

In the month of resolving to be, live, and work better, Shady and I decided to give my parents’ long-maligned roomba a chance to prove itself. My dad’s livestream set-up in the dining room was torn down prior to his long absence over the holidays, so the floors were clear of all but furniture. Mum was also absent over this period, but she had—conveniently for my narrative—set herself up as The Doubter. Her belief in Roomba-san’s ability to clean the house was limited. Sure, it would work eventually, but it was too noisy and slow to bother with.

So we turned it on from its sad charging podium where it had languished.

People who don’t have pets probably do pretty well with a roomba. There’s a real drive to watch it work, even though—as mum had promised—its trundling paths through the house were ridiculously ineffective. Perhaps because of this, the times I saw a visible fleck of something on the floor get hoovered up into the tiny Roomba mothership registered as real triumphs. Look at that! It ate it! It ate the dirt! Good Roomba!

Now as it happens I have a cat, so the entertainment factor of watching Roomba-san work tapered off faster than it might for non-pet-havers. My involvement was reduced to finding the roomba on cliff edges or under furniture and clearing the trap and brushes when a little song summoned me to action. The less attention I gave it, the more effective it seemed. Sometimes it even found its little charging platform when it was done. Shady and I were amazed at its good work—and I was touched. The post-pandemic world does this to you: you see a little robot doing its job according to its programming and your heart soars.

Ridiculous, of course, but I let it impress me nonetheless. It was a reminder—and I need lots of reminders—that efficiency doesn’t always matter. Often I get stuck in a mindset of continual disappointment. I want to be good at the things I do the first time through. I want measurable, purposeful strides in actual directions—so the days spent bumping against chair legs register as failures. They are failures, in fact, but if I accept them as part of my process I can let them go. I’m still trying to accomplish my goals, and I’m still existing according to my programming—which yeah, might need an update—and if I throw in a few moments of laughing at something stupid the day is probably worthwhile.

So that’s my long-winded “I was inspired by a roomba” story. Don’t get me started on my cat, who walks around with that stupid little brain of his behind his stupid little cat face and never questions his right to exist. He is, in case it could be doubted, not a fan of the roomba.

We’ll see whether roomba useage continues on once my Doubting Mother returns, and I hope she feels suitably harrassed by this blog post. On the publishing front: no movement with the manuscript we have at editors, but have several drafts of new things in the works (both solo and together). You can guess how the roomba metaphor works here. If at first you don’t succeed…

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