Eventually the things you own begin to own you.
I have far too many things in my life. I have too many obligations, too many items that require maintenance, too many expenses, too many dreams, ideas, and plans. All these things pile up and take away the one precious resource that I do not have an excess of: time.
Time slips away at a rapid rate and there is nothing in this world that can stop its inexorable tic-tock into oblivion. I am over 30 now and feel like I am on the top of the bell-curve of life, and rapidly reaching the drop-off point. I have this obsession with clearing away the dross and opening up a pathway towards a clean zen-like existence. I want to maximize the good parts of my life and minimize the machine-like drudgery in my day-to-day existence.
Today I went on a day-hike on the Morrison Run Trail, here in the Allegheny National Forest, and it was truly glorious to get out and spend time in the woods. That is what I want to do more of. I want to spend more time experiencing life, not spending my days scrabbling around trying to fix and repair the meaningless material things.
I spend most of my days doing just that. Fixing this or that, or just keeping my head down and trying to get through. I am better than that, and want to keep my head about the proverbial waters, and keep heading towards a better existence.
Life is all about balance. Between pleasure and duty; between desires and reality.
I can’t seem to find a good mix between my Maker side, and my Minimalist side.
On the one side is my obsession with creating things, fixing broken stuff, and modifying and generally tinkering constantly with electronics, bikes, cars, you name it. This makes a huge pile of parts, pieces, bits, odds and ends.
On the other side is the rest of my personality which is driven to simplify, refine, purge and clarify. I don’t like stuff lying about unorganized, and I also resent the time I have to spend thinking about the detritus of my life. I see those pictures of the minimalist rooms with everything perfectly aligned and nothing out of place and I am frustrated at my own lack of zen.
A few times a year I set out to just drop anything unnecessary, and get rid of all this clutter in my mind and also in my house, but each time I go through the boxes of parts that I keep organized, I feel torn.
Why can’t I be single faceted?
Saturday: Day 1
8:00am: Now begins my fast. I am abstaining from all forms of solid food for 7 days. I will only drink water and tea, perhaps a little coffee. I am not doing this to lose weight, I have been exercising, and eating well for about a year now and have made great progress on that front. This is for my mind, my focus and also to satisfy my curiosity of what a week without food would really be like. Will I attain zen-like focus? Or just a really bad case of the munches? We shall see.
3:00pm: Not really feeling any hunger, it isn’t uncommon for me to go most, or all day without eating much, so I don’t really expect to feel and hunger until late tonight.
7:30pm: I am feeling hungry, not bad, just a general want of food. I have seen this stage many times before, -like when I am waiting for dinner and don’t want to spoil it with a snack. I am sure much more will come after this. I am having my first cup ( of many I am sure) of tea. It is Twinning’s Premium Black Tea With Lemon, with one packet of Sugar In The Raw.
It is good, hot and slightly sweet.
11:20pm: Ready for bed, no real trouble so far, day one has been easy. I have been keeping my mind and body active with projects all day, I have lots to do and that seems to be helping my body to forget that I am even hungry. The real test will be the next two days. If I can get through them ok, I think it will be smooth sailing.
Sunday: Day 2
11:30am: Going strong. Bottle of water and regular sips. Staying away from any temptation, going to get over the hump. I am not really feeling much hunger, just a slight ’empty sensation’ is all.
1:00pm: Drinking Coffee, little bit of sugar, and a little cream. Keeps the hunger at bay. I don’t want to drink a whole lot of coffee since that is pretty harsh on my digestive system. Tea without cream is better.
10:30pm: This day really blew past. Really not much hunger, my biggest temptation is just the habit of eating, several times I have ended up in the kitchen without even thinking about it, I am only there out of habit, not hunger.
I have resisted, and this makes the end of day 2.
Monday: Day 3
11:00am: Great rest last night, went to bed late, and woke up early feeling rested and alert. I never wake up like that!
10:30pm: One more day done! I have been having pretty strong hunger off and on. Sipping water all day helps keep the hunger at bay.
Tuesday: Day 4
9:00am: Today is the first day back to work since Saturday, still feeling strong and pretty much ‘normal’, I find myself thinking about food a lot, even though I am still not feeling especially hungry, the thought of food keeps coming up. Mostly about foods I don’t normally eat. Dried Dates, Grapes, Pomegranates ect. I find this a little odd, perhaps my body is trying to tell me something. When I resume eating I am going to go get some of these.
4:30pm: I am feeling some nausea, quite hungry, but manageable.
11:00pm: I didn’t expect this to be quite so boring. I am amazed that I feel so ‘normal’ I am no hungrier than I often feel in-between meals. If I didn’t know I hadn’t eaten anything for 4 days I would not suspect it. I listened to an older episode of: This American Life where David Rakoff goes through a 14 day fast, his experiment was a bit like mine is. He didn’t find anything special in the experience other than the experience itself.
Wednesday: Day 5
3:00pm: Again, just plodding along. Bored.
10:30pm: I am glad this day is over. Hungrier today than before.
Thursday: Day 6
6:30pm: Only one more day left. Feeling very good today, I feel like I have more energy than before. My feet feel light and my head feels very clear. I like this feeling. Not sure if it is worth forgoing food for an entire week, but it is a good sensation. Not quite ‘enlightenment’ but more like lucidity. I am hungry from time to time, I keep thinking about food, but it goes away after a few sips of water or tea.
Friday: Day 7
4:00pm: Today is my last day. Looking forward to eating again. I am surprised by how clear minded I have been feeling, this must be that feeling people talk about; it is like I am standing on a chair In a room full of people. I feel like I can see things just a little clearer.
Food! Glorious Food! Nothing has ever tasted so good! I have started with a very small chef salad and it was wonderful. I have been warned about eating very much right off the bat, so I am trying to be cautious, but oh how wonderful to be eating again. I have a whole new appreciation and thankfulness for food now.
Lately I have become obsessed with the idea of a clutter free life; and consequently a clutter free mind.
There is an old saying:
“The more you own; the more what you own, owns you.”
I really have begun to feel that way. it seems that I am simply full of stuff. Little things that take up my time and consideration. Part of this is not so much what I have, but how I have it organized. If I compartmentalize my life I don’t have this problem, I can do what I need to do without the various pieces getting in the way of each-other.
For instance all of my photography equipment, lenses, cases, lighting etc. I don’t feel overwhelmed by any of this because it is all neatly in cases ready to be used whenever I wish. The same with my gadgeteering parts and tools, I have it all catalogued and it is simply there for me to access whenever I have the need to do so. My data archives are getting there, I have been steadily moving and consolidating ten years of writings, photos, and other data into one vast data library, this is some progress, and it is encouraging.
This Mind-Map is a list of everything I took with me on a 5 day trip to Portland.
As you can see I went light and minimal.
The one thing I decided to take regardless of need, is my classic Voigtlander Vito II camera. Yes it is 60 years old and l could easily just take photos with my iPhone, but there is something special about that camera. I love it.
I also took along a Weston Master III light meter. Again old: it was made in the late 40s, but in conjunction with the Vito, it is like stepping back in time.
This is the first trip I have made that I have decided to leave my MacBook at home, and take my iPad instead. I debated this decision for a while, but in the end decided that if there was anything I really needed a full fledged computer for, I would just VNC back to my Mac at home. This trip is for pleasure anyway, I am going to try and avoid any ‘real work’ if I can.