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.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…”
Henry David Thoreau
Tomorrow is simplicity. Hike, carry gear and supplies, set up camp, eat, and sleep. Wake up, repeat.
Today was preparation, anticipation, transportation, and relaxation. Lunch at a state park. A short walk on the beach. Viewing Minnesota’s biggest waterfall. Only separated from Canada by a small creek. Looking across Lake Superior to see our destination in the distance. Now some chillaxing in the tent and then sleep.
Tomorrow? Simplicity… and I couldn’t be more excited.
Maybe it’s just me (btw – I am literally chuckling at my natural use of this phrase knowing what’s about to follow) but sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who’s experiencing certain things.
For instance, when I am writing there are times when the sentences and paragraphs roll so naturally I struggle to keep my fingers moving fast enough. Other times I push so hard to seemingly squeeze blood from a turnip that the smattering of words closely resemble a “Failed It” birthday cake on Pinterest.
The times when writing almost feels guiltily easy I’m playing more than I am working. The thoughts in my brain flow so well into written word that what I’m assuming will be a short little post blossom into a deep thought and a novella. As soon as I start to push it everything seems to gum up and I get out of sync.
One of my favorite authors, Ryan Holiday, recently interviewed one of my favorite endurance athletes, Dean Karnazes. I’ve read books by written by both of them multiple times and they’ve both moved me to changing action and behaviors. Seeing this podcast in my que had me borderline giddy.
Imagine my surprise when the conversation shifted from endurance sports to writing. As they both explained their experiences I literally laughed out loud! At one point Ryan explained how it sometimes felt like a huge drain when he pushed too hard and Dean laughed and went all fanboy like I was at the same time. How wild (or completely expected and understandable) that we all run into the same while writing.
What really struck me was an immediate sense of community and brotherhood. I was listening to my people talk about the same struggles. I was not longer alone, I wasn’t out of the ordinary, and there are ways to get through this challenge just as they have.
What also finally clicked in my head was something several people have been telling me for months but I couldn’t quite bring myself to believe… I am a writer.
The morning started off with an awesome walk while brainstorming. I wrapped up a very insightful book talking about the impending decrease in world population. There were several projects I was able to make a great start on. Yoga on stand up paddle boards was beyond serene in perfect weather conditions. I’ve got my pack locked and loaded and it weighs less than I thought it would. Dominic reminded me so much of me when interacted with Dad back I was his age that I couldn’t help but laugh. All around it’s been an incredible day with much to be grateful for!
Becky informed me that my Father’s Day gift had arrived early. She and Gavin walked me to the refrigerator and showed me an awesome surprise…
What a perfect Father’s Day gift, delicious Kringle!!! We’ve already taken down the Father’s Day “Whiskey Caramel” and I’m so excited for the Pecan tomorrow morning for breakfast. I love their Kringle!
Many positives to be thankful fir throughout the day. Several deep thoughts and lessons starting to form, new twists to strategies about to hatch. All that said, I only get a delicious Kringle like this once or twice a year.😁
I find it so easy to get into a rut. Without even noticing it my brain can trick itself into following the same course of action simply because it is easy.
Once in a while what can help me bust out of it something I really don’t want to do. That was very much the case late yesterday. The homework I had to prep was not what I wanted to focus on and was much more tedious than I wanted… but it was exactly what my brain needed. It gave me space to pause and think.
Our meeting for work today was our first of this kind face today face since pre-COVID. The combination of something new and the time together with friends I’ve only seen on a video screen was another useful way to help me attain distance to think.
The agenda didn’t quite go as it usually did. This caused the conversations to go in different directions which also jolted me out of the rut.
When all is said and done I was impressed by just how much I’d been able to step out of the rut, attain distance, and think. In that space and thought I found I was already on the right track on some things. Other strategies I had been thinking of suddenly showed their errors and helped me reframe the challenge. So much to reflect on before charting the next course.
Out of the rut, moving forward in the right direction. What an awesome sensation of progress!
Sometimes I can’t help but wonder why I’m naturally attracted to the crazy game of “Just how much more can I pack into my life in a short period of time.” It’s a ludicrous game full of twists and turns, a fiery crash or two, a crazy comeback and a celebration in which the trophy is a ticket to play again the next day.😉. I’m currently horizontal, typing, and ready to crash. Not gonna lie, I both won and lost at this game today. My alarm is going to go off again in about six hours so I can do it all over again.
For reals, as stressful as times like this can be from the sheer volume of both activity and logistics I’m a fan of it once in a great while and when I’m both rested and see rest on the horizon. This is one of those times.
Throughout the day I’ve started mentally composing my blog at least four times I can think of. Topics have included living lessons from Dad, planning ahead, growth through adversity, not being picked after Little League baseball tryouts even though my dad was a coach, and focus under pressure. All around me were moments in which I paused, even though I didn’t have time, quietly drew a deep breath, and let my mind focus on something I was grateful for.
As tired as I am I considered not writing a post today. In my brain I tried reasoning with myself that I could take the day off, I’d already been thankful, no biggie. Had I listened in that moment of weakness I would t have kept the streak going and could have started taking more days off when I got tired. No good at all.
Blogging is my meditation, journal, forced quiet time, and therapy all rolled into one. If I cut the corners and decide not to type it would be so easy to stop and I’d miss so many inspiring insights I would otherwise miss or neglect to catalog for future remembrance.
Tonight I’m grateful for choosing to blog even though I’m exhausted. My day is now complete. I’ll sleep with a smile.
Life has become increasingly busy and ridiculous, almost all in positive ways. Quite honestly, even the small number of speed bumps have been wonderful opportunities to grow and develop. In many cool ways it almost feels as if the universe is conspiring to bring my joy!
What I’m finding very interesting is the number of opportunities that are popping up seemingly out of the blue. All around me are more events to go to, more ideas to work on, and past ideas and potential projects that seem to be making sense again. All around me are more and more opportunities and I am thankful for that.
In past years I would run with pretty much all of them and some would fall quickly by the wayside as new options came available. For sure, it wouldn’t be that those left behind were bad, it would purely be that my attention drew me to the new and shiny instead.
This year has been very different and largely due to one single exercise. I took the advice of Jim Collins and spent time considering the theme I would choose to live for 2021. I’ve written about it before: Into the woods. My core focus has been on living life intentionally. I narrowed it down to my three biggest goals, three things to start doing, three things to stop doing, and three things to remember. Couple those groups of three with my values and it has laid out a very clear way for me to live in 2021.
Thanks specifically to that time spent planning, while it was quiet, I’ve found that I’m putting more focus into the things I decided we’re most important at the beginning of the year. I’ve been living significantly more intentionally than in the past and I’m starting to see it pay out in spades. W
This process is something I will definitely keep focused on for next year. The time spent on it for 2021 has already proven to be a extraordinary investment in myself.
One of the best parts of this weekend so far has been this oasis. I’ve written before about the crazy time warp effect I’ve been feeling from COVID. The more I get back to the normal routine the more it seems as if the past 15 months have been lived in a parallel dimension. My brain struggles to comprehend how the past year and half has happened while also seeming as if it didn’t happen and we’re jumping right back into the summer of 2020 as I’d first imagined it would be in the beginning of the year.
This weekend has been a wildly wonderful oasis. Spending time with friends, spending time outdoors, playing, relaxing, and chilling. Just like we would have had in 2020 without COVID, just like we would have done this year, just our group of lifelong friends, hanging out and enjoying each others company. No stress, no responsibility. Only time spent hanging out and strengthening friendships which seem as if they had already been stronger than possible.
Here’s to friendships, time warps, and an oasis of serenity.
It’s been well over a year and a half since we’ve had the opportunity to get the whole group of us together. Talk about an awesome reunion!
In another wonderful sign that we’re on the other side of the pandemic we’re getting together to spend time getting back into the old norm. Same jokes, same games, same everything. The normalcy has been amazing!
Speaking of which, I’m going to cut this one short and get back to the fun 😁👍