MY SIMPLE LIFE (3)

During this period of working backward I stumbled onto a concept that helped more than you’d think, minimalism.

No, I didn’t try to live with only a hundred possessions, or anything equally extreme, but although some parts of my life were gone, I still had all the accoutrements and still spent time cleaning and maintaining those things. Things I no longer had any use for.

As you may have guessed, when life suddenly and fundamentally takes an unexpected turn, confusion follows. This confusion is different from the ordinary confusion of being temporarily befuddled by a task or idea not immediately understood. It’s a howling beast with sharp claws constantly tearing apart concentration and sending trains of coherent thought into the abyss.

While wrestling with the ugly brute added distraction is the last thing you need. This is where minimalism shines. By disposing of possessions that had lost their purpose and value, I not only made space in my house, but space in my head as well.

That mental space was essential. It allowed me to view the beast from different angles and slowly begin finding ways to tame it.

The take away for me was the insight that owning something, regardless of what it is, is a commitment. I was committing time, energy, and resources to every single thing I owned at some level. When I looked at things from this perspective I found many that, rather than add value or joy to my life, did the exact opposite. They weren’t things I needed, but things I needed to be rid of.

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MY SIMPLE LIFE (1)

This blog has been a wonderful outlet for the random musings and unanticipated thought fragments that seem to perpetually traverse my mind. Through poetry I’ve found a method of examining and coping with emotional turmoil, that kept bottled up, eventually becomes rancid and toxic.

Without prattling on endlessly, I’ll share with you that several years ago I experienced a series of traumatic events severe enough to make rebuilding the life I had impossible.

Much of what I’d thought of as absolutely essential was irredeemable. At 44 years old I was faced with the terrifying prospect of finding a completely different way to live, something I wasn’t even certain was possible.

Being so fundamentally hurt, the first eighteen months were little more than a process of slow healing. I didn’t think about what came next during this time, because I wasn’t convinced there would be a next.

When I finally tried to pull myself together it was quickly apparent that too many pieces couldn’t be made to fit anymore. That was very sad since I’d had some of them most of my life, and didn’t want to see them go.

So, I was left with the question, who was I?…………………………………………………… (to be con’t)

 

Authors note: While I have no intention of abandoning poetry, I think it’s time to bring this blog more in alignment with it’s original mission statement, which is simply to help, and to do that it’s important to understand the circumstances of it’s creation.

 

A year without television

The Sunday afternoon downpour had my Son and I trapped in the house. Both of us experiencing that unique frustration known as “Cabin fever”, we’d each flipped through every cable channel available to us several times. Not only couldn’t we find anything we both wanted to watch, neither of us found anything even one of us was interested in, and this was not the first time.

A whole different species of frustration came to visit. Here I was, paying $135 a month, for the privilege of not watching television. I’d like to take a moment and sincerely thank our cable television provider for that experience, without it I wouldn’t have spent the afternoon searching for alternatives. That was the day I discovered online programming services and signed up with HULU for $7.99 a month. The following day I cancelled the television portion of my cable service, keeping only internet and phone access. My monthly cable bill dropped to $57. Add $7.99 to that and my monthly total became $64.99. Half of what it had previously been.

I admit that there was a short period of trepidation wondering how my Son would adapt to life without television. This evaporated almost immediately as He found that, with only one exception, all the shows He watched regularly were available. He’s since encountered several older series, which weren’t on cable, that He’s become a fan of. I learned something of my own habits as well. It became apparent that I was wasting considerably more time watching television than I’d thought. I know this to be true because during the last year I’ve lost 25lbs., improved my martial arts practice, and read many excellent books which I hadn’t been able to find time for, most notably; The Holy bible and Thoreau’s Walden. My Son has also enjoyed reading several novels that He otherwise wouldn’t have.

Far from feeling deprived without television, both my Son and I feel as though television was depriving us.

Why I sleep on the floor

“REPLACE EVERY EIGHT!”. We’ve all heard the catchphrase, usually followed by a seemingly knowledgeable spokes-person proclaiming that due to sweat, dust mite, dead skin cell, etc. accumulation an average mattress will double in weight every 8-10 years. That’s right, double!…………………… Or is it?

It turns out that this claim is completely untrue. A few minutes of internet research reveal that it was made up out of whole cloth by a journalist in the year 2000, falsely stating that the information had come from an Ohio state university researcher.

I’m no crusader, no martyr, just a guy with a limited income and a bad back who had reached peak frustration level. Enough is enough! Enough trying to pass off an advertising campaign as scientifically verified fact, enough extolling the wondrous (though questionable) virtues of a $2,000+ adjustable bed, which I can’t afford, as the best or only solution to my back pain and stiffness.

So, with the knowledge that sleeping on a hard surface significantly mitigates my suffering, and no longer able to suffer foolish advertising, I made a choice and moved my mattress for the last time, to the trash pile.

I laid out two quilts and a sleeping bag on my freshly cleaned floor, went to bed, and woke the next morning feeling better than I had in two decades.