“Our lives are frittered away by detail…Simplify, simplify, simplify!”
Growing up, I didn’t fully understand what Henry David Thoreau was trying to say when he wrote those words. But over the past year they have become my life’s mantra.
Nothing is simple today.
In order for my face to be glowing as well as acne and wrinkle free, I have to use no less than 4 different products at least twice a day. Sorry gals, Noxema and Oil of Olay don’t cut it anymore!
But two things happened last Fall that made me fully realize the meaning in Thoreau’s words.
I read a book, and I went on a backpacking trip.
The book was Into The Wild by Jon Krakeauer. It is the story of Chis McCandless, who after graduating college in 1990, donated his entire life savings to charity, packed up the Minimal items needed to survive, and walked away from his detailed filled life.
For three years Chis, lived the vagabond lifestyle. He worked when he needed, and made due with the things he had. There were no latest fashions, cable, clean clothes every day, or even a warm meal every time he ate.
You know…. all the things we feel we are entitled to.
He traveled on foot, meeting the most interesting people, and experiencing life to the ultimate fullness. In 1992, he found his way into the deep Alaska wilderness, where for 113 days he survived living in an old abandoned bus.
Unfortunately, Chris made some serious mistakes that ultimately cost him his life, but what interested me and made him so appealing was the zest he had for living. He realized living a full and happy life did not involve money, things, clean clothes, lots of food, or even a real house. He found that true joy in life came not from the material things you had, but in the passion you had in living life you had been given.
What powerful words. Those things I think I “NEED” are no more than details. Now, I am not going to lie,I love sleeping in a soft bed, with clean crisp sheets. I love indoor plumbing, hot fresh food, having a little cash in my bank account. But these are not what I need to survive.
Last September, I embarked on my first backpacking trip, and my life was forever changed. The absolute simplicity and freedom I felt was divine. Sure, the pack was heavy. Sure I wore the same clothes for two straight days. Sure I lived off just the food I had with me and drank water from the streams I passed (totally filtered of course), and sure it rained causing me and my friends to be stuck inside a small tent for over an hour.
But I also learned that there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING better then having all you really need with you all the time on your back. The things I thought I absolutely could NOT live without, I found that I didn’t really need. When my mind was cleared of all the details and distractions I was able to see that this world is not meant to be lived inside my comfort zone.
If we are truly going to experience life, we need to throw away the ideals of what we think we need to enjoy it. Now, I am not saying quit your job, give away all your stuff, and head out on foot, but I am saying, maybe it is time we simplify.
Walk through the grass barefooted. Watch the sunset instead of the latest episode of The Bachelor. Drink some spring water (filtered!) instead of the wine. Walk instead of drive. Sleep outside under the stars instead of in front of the TV. Listen to the sounds of nature instead of Beyonce’. Get your exercise climbing a rocky mountain instead of going to a stuffy gym. Explore your environment instead of Facebook.
Life is short. No two days are ever the same. Don’t miss out because you are concerned with being comfortable and safe. Living happens when you throw caution to the wind, take a chance, get a little stinky, and yes, experience a little pain.
Life isn’t about being secure, comfortable, or having stuff. It is about seeing and experiencing all you can while you are here. It is about building relationships and memories instead of wealth and stability.
Live a little. Get off the couch. Turn off the TV. Put down the phone. Get rid of the details. Go out and see a new and different sun than the one you saw yesterday.