It's All Relative

When my son was in the Coast Guard, he sometimes worked ninety hours a week. He commented to his supervisor, “How easy the civilians have it. They only work forty hours instead of our eighty to ninety.” 

His supervisor said, “It’s all relative. If you cut back to forty hours, you’d be happy for a while. Then, you’d want less. Twenty-hours would also become a burden at some point. Let’s say your boss only required you to go into the office once a week to pick up your paycheck. Eventually even that would feel inconvenient. It’s all relative to your attitude and perception.”

That little story came to mind as I did dishes for what seemed the umpteenth time that day while my husband relaxed in his chair. It felt like most of the chores had shifted in my direction since I had retired. 

I glanced out the window. A beautiful sunset splayed across the sky. I dried my hands and stepped out onto the patio. Memories flooded in of how sunsets used to trigger a sick feeling knowing that the next day I faced another eleven-hour marathon. Before I retired, I endured an hour-long commute one way in heavy traffic, grumpy and rude coworkers, and the stress of trying to please my boss. 

My anger melted. If it weren’t for my spouse, I would still be doing that grueling schedule. My current chores were much easier and left me plenty of leisure time. 

I went back to the kitchen with a grateful heart, even giving my husband a hug and a kiss on the way. 

He asked, “What’s that for?”

“Because I love you and appreciate everything you do.”

When I stopped to think about it, he did a lot. He often brought me coffee in the morning, ran errands, and mowed lawns. Not to mention he vacuumed, dusted, did his own laundry, washed the windows, handled the household repairs, paid the bills and did all the snow shoveling last winter. And here I was griping over a few dishes,

It will take effort not to grumble when I am tired and don’t feel like doing chores, but I plan to repeat St. Paul’s words, “I speak not as it were for want. For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, to be content therewith.” Philippians 4:11 

Perhaps I should post the equation for Einstein’s theory of relativity next to the kitchen sink.


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