Man, am I learning a hard lesson in my life right now.
I went on vacation for 3 months to travel around and get new perspectives and inspiration, knowing that something was missing, that I needed to find out what the next step in my life was. I was quite right. I came back home jazzed up and inspired, full of understanding about the potential out there that I could not see from where I live.
And then I confronted that process of re-integrating into the life I was living before my trip. It wasn’t too hard, because I had only been away for 3 months. In fact, it was horribly easy – easy to fall back into old patterns and habits that I used to gradually tolerate before my trip, but now can no longer think about without getting angry. These habits and comfort rituals that I engage in are holding me back, robbing me of time I need to be spending striving for the life I now want.
Before my travels, I was fairly happy where I was at. Very comfortable, in control, well respected, well admired, and so on. But I noticed how the things I used to be grateful for did not inspire the same degree of gratitude in me. I believe in being grateful for what I have, but I also believe in listening to myself to figure out why I’m not grateful, if this is the case. After I came back from my travels, so much more became apparent to me. Parts of me got awakened that now can no longer crawl back into the boxes they were awakened from.
So I’m making some changes in my life. But this time around, as somebody who is older, more stuck in his ways, with more history than at any other time in my life, I’m noticing just how much inertia I must overcome in order to make these changes. More than ever before, it seems. It’s like there’s this huge blob of tradition I have developed in everything from the habits and rituals I keep to the roles I see myself playing among my friends and in my community. Much of it needs to change, and it isn’t easy.
One thing I’ve noticed more and more is just how much time my laptop takes up in my life. And now that I am observing this with newly inspired eyes, I notice that the majority of the time that I sit at my laptop is spent in a half dead zone, where before I easily engaged in the mindless time passing without giving it too much thought. Yes, I like reading interesting articles, participating in interesting discussions with friends over chat, watching porn, contributing to Facebook threads, watching TED talks, laughing at funny YouTube videos, and the like … But when I stop to think about how my higher brain would really want me to use my time, I think to myself, really, I’m spending all that time in front of this machine, so glued to it because of its multifunction capacity that when I get up, I realize that I haven’t gone to the bathroom or gotten a drink of water in several hours and I suddenly desperately need to do both right away. Often, my feet have gone cold from sitting pretty much motionless in one place with the laptop on my legs for hours. After one of these sessions with my laptop, I don’t feel alive and rejuvenated; I feel worn out and listless, and on top of that, the time at which I go to bed is inevitably too late to get a full night’s sleep. Well – now my laptop is in the hands of a friend who lives fairly far away for a couple of weeks. I figured, why don’t I see how I do without it, and if I really don’t need it and can get by with just my smartphone for most things, I will go ahead and sell it in a couple of weeks, and be free of something that, despite its apparent utility, was more of a burden to me than an asset.
I look at the clothing I have. While my mind has been occupied in the comfort zone, I haven’t taken notice of how much I actually don’t like many of the clothes that I have – until now, coming back from my travels, looking at my life with these new eyes. Suddenly, there is an imperative to rid my shelves of 2/3 of the shirts on them and go out and obtain a few actually awesome shirts that I will truly feel good wearing.
I have a bunch of junk that is worth something to somebody. I need to start selling it and giving it away. Whether you are rich or poor, doesn’t it often seem like it’s so easy to accumulate shit that doesn’t actually contribute to your life? If you are rich, it’s much too easy to just buy stuff. If you are not very rich, it becomes much too easy to hoard things that you come into in anticipation of when you will need them or when they will come in handy in some situations in the future. And the worst thing is, the fact that this stuff has been a part of your life for a long time, even if a completely inactive part, means that it’s harder to just rip it out of your life. It’s like you’re ripping a piece of yourself out … At least that’s what it’s feeling like to me now … Why else would I find getting rid of this junk so damn hard? :-)
So I guess the moral of this mostly personal rant is that sometimes, you really need to put a huge effort into clearing the decks if you want to make a big transformation in your life. Make new friends but keep the old ones, it is said – but what if the old ones really aren’t friends anymore? What if things and people are holding you back, and you have no other reason to keep them around except that it would take some effort on your part to jettison them? Laziness is great when we actually choose it; it wastes away life when it chooses us.
Sometimes, there are things in life that you can’t just clear away. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that. But when was the last time you asked yourself what you could truly clear away, if you got up and fought the inertia the keeps you in place? Life is complicated enough as it is, without the unnecessary burdensome junk so many of us mindlessly haul around without realizing it. More often than you might think, it’s not a bad idea to take a look at yourself and figure out what you can drastically cut away, in the interest of having a cleaner and more purposeful, more fulfilling life.