Several trips ago one of my mentors shared that you could tell a lot about someone’s mental state by seeing how long they kept their “vacation chill” after returning to reality. Based on that I’m thinking this trip has really helped me move into a very solid headspace. There have been very few moments of stress and very energy wasted worrying.
What really caught my attention today has been a significant shift in my paradigm of the concept of crowded. After a week of being on a very large island with very few people my brain almost short circuited at the cacophony of voices at the grocery store. To be surrounded by so many people was something I was not quite ready for. On our walk this evening even our neighborhood seemed more crowded with many houses and not nearly enough trees and wildlife. In some ways I’ve almost felt claustrophobic – similar to when I spend time mapping out my next month of work and life.
This last week has been so opposite of what I experienced today. There were trees and wildlife everywhere. The only electronic devices were for navigation, photography, blogging, and light. There were no vehicles outside our ferry at each end of the trip. When we saw people a large group was a party of six or more.
Long story short, I quickly became used to more simplicity. Less stuff. Less distraction. Less people. Less hurrying. More time in thought. More introspection. More gratitude for the natural world. More in the moment. In just one short week my paradigm of simplicity and living simply was shifted significantly.
So here’s the deal. If last week was a skilled pianist playing a symphony today was more like a toddler smashing the keys of a much less expensive piano. Seemingly every chord was off and there was no rhythm. Quite honestly, it has been a little jarring. But I’m not complaining, quite the opposite.
Before this past week I felt that normal was normal and on the right track. It seemed natural and was a great habit to be in. This week has helped me redefine my paradigm of an ideal state of simplicity. It may not have been a month at a monastery, but the week was enough for me to appreciate, grow accustomed to, and set a dream to grow into a deeper state of peace. When I think about it there are ways to find and create that same peace in life as it is here – back to normal – as it was there – backpacking on the island. By remembering what serenity on Isle Royale felt like I’m able to re-create in my brain regardless of what is going on around me.
Today may have been uncomfortable in some ways, but it helped me see just how much my paradigm of peace has shifted and helps me dream and work toward a future of more of that same sensation within “real life.” Talk about something to be grateful for!
PS – I was still blogging each day on the island and will upload those sometime this weekend.