Nearly 35 years ago –ouch– I fell in love with the long distance adventure. I loved the nomadic lifestyle, living close to nature and the teamwork of expeditions. I traded the career ladder and the commitments that my peers shouldered for the promise of the next quest. It was during those years — when I risked it all to do what felt right — that I began to assemble the skills to craft a lifestyle that would make me happy. Here’s the current collection:
Intentions & possibilities
When John F Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon, he created a hairy possibility. He declared that the unthinkable was possible and we delivered. I learned that it’s not about what life is, but what it can become. I practice setting possibilities – no matter how crazy — and working to make them happen. The alternative is really boring.
For me mindfulness starts with the knowledge that everything I think about and do has an impact on me and others. Being aware of the forces I exert on my immediate universe starts with body language and words. What I say and how I say it has repercussions. I practice observing my thoughts and choosing them carefully.
This is perhaps my greatest discovery. Mastery comes in small steps, ones that you take every day. Life is one big practice; whether I’m meditating, rowing, writing or parenting. I try to do a little each day to move the needle forward. I have yet to find a shortcut for consistency.
Body & Soul
My body is just the backpack for my soul. It’s all I have to take me on adventures. And if it breaks down, I’ll have to stay home on the couch and bitch. I treat my body with the greatest respect and love. I feed it, exercise it and rest it well. I want it ready to go.
I grew up self-centered where survival was paramount. It took me an entire lifetime to figure out that to give service and share my talents is what I’m here for. Volunteering time doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to work at it, but it may be the most important tool in the box. In fact I’m sure of it.
Deciding between following what feels right or cutting my losses and moving on is a constant struggle. I recently adapted the concept of downstream and upstream ideas. Downstream ideas flow and make things happen effortlessly, upstream ideas require a paddle.
Comfort Zone (inspired by Tina)
Tina reminded me that “Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.” As I get older my comfort zone is expanding. At this rate — if the zone gets any bigger — I’ll need to file for a re-zoning permit. Heck, I used to roll out of bed at 5 AM in the dead of winter and and run 10 miles. Now I take a hot shower before driving to the yoga studio to meditate by the heater. I need to trek to the edge more often and repel into surf zone to see what I find.
Selfish is OK (inspired by Rob)
Rob pointed out that being focused on making my life satisfying is OK. It’s like filling a cup; only when it overflows can you help others. Or even a more visceral example, when flying you are reminded to grab your oxygen mask first before helping your child as the reverse will render you useless. It’s true, when I’m balanced, healthy, organized and financially stable — I naturally lift my gaze outward.
This collection of ideas is a work in progress. I didn’t invent any of them; I just collected them in my travels and applied them to my life. Love to hear yours.