A Learning Opportunity in the ‘Button Challenge’

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By Brendie Heter
Signal Contributing Writer

I’m giving you a challenge. However for full disclosure, I tried myself but failed.

The “Button Challenge” isn’t easy, and will force you to pay attention to your surroundings.

I previously wrote on my blog about the identity crisis and confusing questions I’ve been asking myself lately.

I’ve been seeking to streamline areas of my life I’ve neglected. “To do” lists were cluttering my head. I found myself snapping at my kids and feeling sorry for myself. The phrase, “I have so much to do” kept running through my head.

And then I pressed a button.

In an instant, cold, refreshing, filtered, clean water came out of a giant silver box. I didn’t have to bend down or exert any effort. Water … just came out. I instantly felt guilty. Aggravated with myself I thought, “Do I really have that much to do? I didn’t have to walk to a local water source, collect water in buckets and then bring it back to my home.”

I loaded my boys into the van hurrying them … because again … we had so much to do.
And then I pressed another button.

Buttoning up
With one finger, a giant automobile powered on. It would safely take me and my children eight miles across town. We needed fresh groceries from a giant, air-conditioned store.

The voice in my head grew louder. “Another button to start my car. My word. I didn’t even have to turn my wrist like the olden days (1997).”

“Clearly, my life is so hard,” the voice continued sarcastically. Out of curiosity, I picked up my phone and looked up how long it would take me to get to my destination by walking. Answer: 5 hours, 15 minutes.

It would take me 12 minutes driving.

That’s perspective for you.

As I’m processing this convenience and perspective: “Whoops. Need to adjust my mirrors. Let me press this button right here. Done. Adjust the temperature in the van… click. My goodness, I’m still pressing buttons.”

Stunned, I just sat there looking at buttons — everywhere.

Close the garage door. Lock the van. Listen to music.

Button. Button. Button.

My life of buttons
I sat in my driveway and counted buttons just in my van. I started to process … about how accustomed I’ve become to pressing buttons to make my life easier. Buttons have become a source of comfort.

Still sitting in my driveway I wondered, “How many buttons do I press every day?” Out of genuine curiosity, I tried to keep track starting then. To be honest?

I couldn’t. It was easily hundreds and I lost count.

Some of the buttons aren’t even real buttons anymore. They are fancier digital buttons. You don’t have to even press hard. And this doesn’t take into account how many buttons I don’t press because I use Alexa so frequently.

My laptop unlocks with a fingerprint button.

Later, the coffee got cold and I pressed a few more buttons warming the same cup repeatedly (no less than 24 times) #momlife.

Preparing dinner was another set of buttons. That’s when I lost count for the day.

A buttoned-down perspective                                                                                                                                Now, please hear me. I do not support the increasing pressure to feel guilty for living in the West, having access to technology and “first-world problems.” This is where I was predestined to live and serve. I love technology, and will always seek ways making it work better for my family.

However, my new button perspective has helped me quiet the inner voice that’s constantly yapping about “to-do lists.” (She’s super irritating.)

We all do have genuinely hard days regardless of buttons. Whatever trial or discomfort you’re facing shouldn’t be discounted. I simply want to remind myself that I live in a soft, comfortable and convenient world.

As we wrap up Thanksgiving week and prepare for the rest of the holiday season, let’s keep the button perspective in mind OK, neighbor? We all have a lot going on. The season brings stress, self-inflicted chaos and endless errands.

Just take a deep breath, quiet that voice in your head and be thankful. You’re doing fine. The laundry will get done. You have SO much to be thankful for but it takes effort to foster a grateful spirit. Let’s be thankful we aren’t washing clothes in the river? And be thankful we have access to instant clean and cold water.

Can you do it?

I’d challenge you to physically count and acknowledge the impact buttons have on your life. It’s astounding. Any time you felt uncomfortable, did you seek out a button to relieve the issue?

Are you up for the “Button Challenge?”

You will probably lose count, but are you willing to try?

Brendie Heter, of www.BrendieHeter.com, is a resident in Castaic and has lived in the Santa Clarita Valley for 18 years. She’s a community activist, public speaker, and certified financial coach.

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