A few days a week, I rush home from dropping the kids off at school so I can attend an online morning meditation group. This morning I cut it close and, as I scrambled to find my computer, I stepped on a Lego—which sent me stumbling into the coffee table. Furious, I glared around the living room at the layer of clutter. It was as if the ceiling had snowed stuffed animals, children’s books, single socks, cat toys, and tiny mounds of dog hair. An affront to my rarely satisfied craving for order.
After taking a deep breath, I logged into the meeting and was greeted with a group of smiling faces and the facilitator gently guiding the group into a reflection on acceptance of the discomfort of uncertainty. I was just beginning to let go of the hectic energy and irritation I’d been feeling, when I noticed one of the other participant’s living room. Framed with high-beam ceilings, long leather couches, a crackling fire, and picture windows looking out onto an alpine setting, it looked larger than my entire house. Rather than focusing on the meditation practice, my mind wandered to thoughts of how nice it would be to spend my days working in that living room instead of my own. I didn’t resent the guy, but I certainly felt jealous of his set-up. I was just starting to imagine how incredible his alpine deck must be in the summer time when the man, who had been sitting quite still, shifted position. The odd digital blurring the occurs with artificial backgrounds was suddenly apparent.
And, now that I truly looked at the image, I realized that everything was “too perfect.” Where was the mug on the coffee table or the pair of slippers beside the fire? Where was the dog wandering past? I’d been so absorbed in comparing my rambunctious, child and pet-filled home to this man’s meticulous alpine mansion that I hadn’t realized I’d been comparing my world to an illusion. Suddenly the stray sock and furry llama wedged beside me on the couch felt less like clutter and more like signs of life.