Yahoo and hallelujah, spring has finally arrived in Maine! I’m looking forward to sunny days and warmer nights, and the return of greenery to my little corner of the world. However, the rapidly dwindling snowpack has a downside: it reveals everything that has accumulated (largely out of sight under snow) over the past winter.
So, my first spring yard decluttering project will be basic clean-up of debris, some of it of my own cause and some not. For example, it’s a bit annoying how much trash has found its way to my yard from people just tossing it out of their cars. I’ll be lugging a trash bag around picking up cans, wrappers, and whatnot regardless of origin.
Another yard decluttering project will be a simple raking of the lawns. This is particularly needed under a weeping willow out front. Man, I think that tree must have shed at least a pickup truck load of twigs and branches.
After the yard is cleaned up, it will be time to inspect the house for any paint or wooden siding damage. And this year, the house will need a repaint, which is par for the course for a 100-plus year old house up here. It’s tedious but not terribly difficult.
There is a school of thought in decluttering which stipulates that one should not hold on to anything which does not bring one joy. I understand the intent there, but I honestly do not find joy in things.
Relationships bring me the most joy in my life. Interactions with my family, my friends, my church family, and yes, my cats all bring joy into my life. So, is there joy in my life? Certainly! Is that joy dependent upon possessions? Not so much as it turns out.
One gray area though, is cycling. When I’m out cycling I experience true joy. It’s the joy of movement, of the rush of wind, of sunshine on my face, and of just being close to the sights and sounds (and sometimes smells) of the world that bring me joy. It’s not the bicycle, but the experience that brings joy. The thing is, it’s darned hard to go out cycling with a bicycle.
So, perhaps there is more to that school of thought than I thought.
I was walking along a trail today and an older woman pointed to the nearby tidal river. “Look”, she said “there are a lot more rocks now.” She was referring to the large number of rocks and boulders that were visible along the shoreline, since the tide was low. It occurred to me that there were no more rocks there at that time than at any other time. They are always there, just sometimes covered by water. Depending upon the depth of the water, the rocks present varying levels of potential danger to boats. At high tide, there is little danger because the water is deep. At low tide, there is little danger because the rocks are plainly visible. It’s that in-between condition that can be dangerous.
It seems to me that our attitudes about ourselves can be like that. If our hang-ups or self-doubts are deeply submerged, they have little overt impact. If they are out in the open, they can be dealt with as needed. It’s when we allow them a little leeway, and they nibble at the edges of our thoughts, that problems can arise. They can exert influence upon our decisions and our relationships and we may never even realize it because they are neither quiescent nor overt, but subtle and sneaky. I guess what I’m saying is, we need to be constantly watchful and not let that in-between condition prevail.
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!
I’m 57 years old and 60 is fast approaching. I was recently told that I don’t act my age when I showed someone a home obstacle course/jungle gym I’m building. This was meant as a good hearted rebuke, but I take it as an affirmation. I freely admit I don’t act may age because I’m not convinced that age is a limitation.
There are plenty of people in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond who don’t “act their age”. Daniela Barnea, 73, recently won three gold medals in swimming. Jacinto Bonilla at 77 competes in CrossFit and even had a WOD named after him. Paul Tetrick, 85, has won more than 12 USA Cycling Time Trial Championships. A quick online search will turn up so many “seasoned” athletes it will make your head spin!
Growing older is inevitable barring illness or injury. To my knowledge there is no law that says we have to grow old in our spirits, though. Certainly there is nothing that mandates allowing our bodies to fall apart from disuse or misuse. I honestly do not see myself growing old with anything approaching complacency. As Dylan Thomas wrote “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I plan to go down kicking and screaming until I draw my final breath!