On my slow ascent into ultra running territory again and ultimately on to running across the United States, I have decided to take a pause. I am doing a nice long water fast for the first time, after clearing a big hurdle in my mind recently. So, yes, a celebration it seems, in a seemingly masochistic kind of way.
I decided early that I do not want running to interfere with this process of body and mind cleansing. At over 2 weeks, I feel clear, highly energized, and motivated. And I have been getting things done that should have been done a long, long time ago…
Don’t get me wrong, I do feel I can run during this time, at least low mileage. I miss it. My journey to higher mileage has been snail like slow due to hiccups I will cover in a future post.
I miss waking up on Saturdays and running for 4 hours, what it does to this body and mind. It’s been years now. Oh how I miss it, but I don’t spend time on that anymore past what I am telling you. I am focusing on now. I’ll get there in time, or I won’t.
I am working on getting a lot of other ignored for too long things done. Mind stuff, house stuff, all are interconnected to me, and it is time to clear the latter.
I am always on a minimalist path, and I, as well as with my family, have a lot of extra stuff inhibiting our living space. Inhibiting is said as negative here, but understand if you have something you don’t ever use, maybe will never use again, it is quite freeing to release it and to free up space at the same time. Never underestimate the power of extra space that is left open. We, like many, have a lot of unwanted but not sure what to do with stuff. Of course this is a continual process but this step is a big one.
“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.” Tyler Durden, Fight Club
My process of minimalism is much simpler than that of my fiancé, but I have years of practice. Her journey on this is delightful, yet stressful to observe. And regarding her kids, well, teaching them the benefits of staying minimal externally and internally is a major practice for me. A practice in patience applies to all of them!
I’ll spare you my minimalist story past a few paragraphs because it is either too long or too similar to others on the same path. Yes, I decided one day, well, first I realized long ago money had little meaning to me. Still, I felt it bought freedom to do whatever you wanted as well as avoid stress. So, I had some things I wanted to buy. And I wanted to travel.
So guess what? A lot of lucky things fell into place and suddenly I was able to travel a lot yet I really didn’t make much money then either. I just kept my cost of living down and lived pretty minimal. But it wasn’t enough. As my mind cleared, I realized I just had a lot of stuff I didn’t need.
And so the story goes. I sold stuff, gave and got rid of others, and off and on since that time I have occasionally indulged a bit too much into consumerism but always bounced back into minimalism. I love it. No burdens, no stuff that defines me. There is a lot more to it but that is a Cliff Notes version.
Now, for you:
Take a breath. Imagine the burden of stuff lifted from your life. Imagine all of those extra clothes you have that you may wear on that ultra special day IN THE FUTURE. Think about the fear of not having said clothes when that mighty day comes. What would you do on that day if you did not have them?
Imagine all of those special movie edition cups you collected as a child just sitting in the basement waiting to be looked at. Nothing worth enough money to sell, but important enough to keep down there, taking up space. How could you rid of those? They represent your childhood and what else would go in that space in their absence? If you got rid of them, are you getting rid of your childhood?
Imagine all of your old cds that sit in a big box waiting to be listened to. You should not get rid of them because your favorite artists used a lot of effort to create them and it’s art. Even if you have all of the music in digital form as well as no cd player anymore, it would be disrespectful to the artists if you got rid of them. What would they think if they found out?
Minimalism isn’t for everyone. I have tried to teach the kids that real life is in front of them, in relationships and direct contact with others and the world. Never in objects, no matter how fun they are. Especially screens. I fail in these teachings, but I continue in hopes that they will see this at some point.
Now my fiancé? She is doing great. She decided herself to try this path. If it is like mine, hers will be a struggle but she is doing pretty well so far. If we ever get a tiny home, she will really have to make some decisions, but until that time I will enjoy watching the pruning.
All you have to do is look at something and love it in that moment and recognize it, without labeling, and be with it. It does not define you and it will be ok if you never see it again. Sure, keep things important to you. But remember, as those things keep adding up, all that each thing means to you is how you perceive that thing. Not the thing itself. The thing is a thing. It’s what you bring to it that has meaning. Therefore, without it, that meaning still lives. Plus that meaning doesn’t define you.
Take It Upstairs
And minimalism doesn’t just start and end with stuff, it also can apply to your mind. It starts with your mind. In fact, I have heard that a cluttered mind presents a cluttered living environment which would mean that a clear mind would present a clear living environment right? Who knows. What I do know is you can live your life however you see fit but I promise you that if you are attached to things, especially a lot of things, life will not be a grand as it could be. And it starts in your noodle.
Taking the simplification process to the brain is key to a peaceful life. Clear the clutter out. There are many ways how, but you just gotta try somehow. I won’t get into the how here, but all forms of meditation are great! Whichever way you go for it I promise this: if you have a clear mind, all parts of your life will be clear. Including your stuff. Even your running.
Take all of your running products and get rid of them. Ok, just kidding. I am a minimalist runner. I wear sandals or go barefoot. I wear as little as possible and don’t buy too many products like gels or all that other cyborg stuff. I do have a Garmin I use here and there for max distance and I bring dates mostly when I do longer runs for food. I am minimal because it is easier and more fun than when I wasn’t. It allows me to focus on the run. But I do not expect others to follow suit. Still, what I said above can still equally apply.
Just go running and remove as much as possible that gets in the way of that. Your goals are fine but should not be in the way of enjoyment. And when you feel free in that run, you are there.
Just pause. And take it all in. Apply it to everything. See what happens. Push play.
“Behave simply and hold on to purity.
Lessen selfishness and restrain desires.
Abandon knowledge and your worries are over.”
Tao Te Ching – Ch. 19