I’ve been building a home obstacle course the past few weeks which I have been calling my “mini-Ninja” course, inspired by the show American Ninja Warrior. When it’s done it will look like a grown up version of a kid’s jungle gym. The problem I have been facing is that the darn thing is so heavy it’s difficult to assemble on my own.
That came home to roost last Sunday when the structure collapsed while I was trying to raise the taller of the two end pieces. I managed to dodge most of it, but I torqued my left forearm a little trying to stabilize it before I saw the futility of that effort. I admit, looking at that pile of timbers an pipes I felt more than a little discouraged. I may even have sung a few choruses of “the old four letter serenade”.
There thing is, it’s not a bad idea-it may even be pretty good! It’s the execution that has been problematic. So I have come up with a new idea for stabilizing the two end pieces in two directions at once to help keep them standing. Instead of trying to man-handle 12 foot long 4 x 4 timbers into place in brackets to connect the two ends, I’m going to use two 12 foot long 2 x 4 timbers which will be much easier to maneuver and will accomplish what I need just as well.
The upshot of this is that when you suffer a setback, it’s OK to get angry and annoyed. Go ahead and vent-I sure did! But get it out of your system and get back to what you were doing. If you need to, rethink the process and come at the problem from a different angle. Just don’t give up.
Here is my revised plan-bracing in two directions!
There is nothing easy or intuitive about simplicity. At least, it often feels that way. I think that each of us has a place inside us where we understand that excessively complex lives are not much fun. We long for a simpler, easier life. The thing is, we seldom have a corresponding innate understanding of how to mitigate this complexity.
So what can we do?
I think it all boils down to being mindful. “Mindful” can be a bit of a buzz word, but the concept has merit. At its most basic level, mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you are living in the moment and being observant. In such a state it becomes easier to identify the extraneous influences in your life, whether they be possessions or habits. Only once we have identified the problem will we be in a position to respond.
Here it is, my last post of the year. Often, as New Year’s Eve approaches, we tend to look back on the year that is winding down with a certain sense of melancholy. Like anyone else, I had some high points and some low points in 2015. But I am not melancholy.
I choose to look at the low points not as failures, but as opportunities to learn. Much like Thomas Edison, I have learned how not to do some things, the specifics of which are not relevant to this discussion. Suffice to say, I learned and I’m moving forward.
I also had some success in 2015. There were a few things I did or experienced that brought me deep satisfaction. For the most part, I was in an overall good mood this past year. I definitely put that in the “plus” column.
An integral aspect of seeking simplification in my life is developing the ability to deal with the ups and downs of my life without becoming either obsessed or depressed. Mostly, I think I have made some significant progress on that front just by becoming less hung up on possessions and practicing mindfulness as much as I can. I hope that you too can make progress in simplifying your life in 2016. May the coming year be a blessed one for you!
My journey of simplification has been going on for a while now. I expect it will continue as long as I am able to metabolize oxygen. That doesn’t mean that I have failed at simplification. Rather, it points out that this is an ongoing process.
Some parts were easy and fairly obvious. I divested myself of unnecessary clothing, books read once and shelved, duplicate cookware, and things like that. These steps essentially involved reducing the amount of stuff occupying space in my home and my life.
Less obvious but no less a part of the process are the mental and spiritual simplification for which I strive. This involves a daily assessment of my needs and then comparing them to my desires, and seeing if they coincide. I’m not saying that desire should be ignored, but I do think that needs should take precedent.
As an example, I may want the newest Agent Pendergast novel (and I really do) but do I need the hardcover book when I have tried to reduce such things in my home? No, the Nook electronic version on my tablet is fine and fits my goals and my needs. I realize the whole hard copy versus electronic copy is a big debate, but not here and not today. 🙂
At the end of the day, simplification is an ongoing process of self-examination and self-determination. I can tell you that it works for me. Beyond that, it’s up to you to explore the possibilities.