This Would Be My House

Recently I’ve been on a mission to radically downsize and simplify my life. And when I say “my life” I mean everything from material stuff to mental baggage and yes, even social baggage. I want to shuck the mind-depleting dribble and get back to the things that fill me with life, love and passion…like hard running, hard climbing, big backcountry snowboarding, my little family, my incredibly awesome core group of friends and livin’ a life of experience. If you’ve read any of my recent posts you’ll know this is EXACTLY why I  moved here many years ago and why I recently started my Project 5430. This project is all about harvesting the energy of people who truly know how to live and transform that energy into my own “life lived big”.

I’d actually done this downsizing exercise several years ago as part of another catharsis type process and in doing so I managed to get things down to a pretty basic level. Well, since then I’ve inadvertently regressed a bit and once again find myself letting things get a little too cluttered for my liking.

There are lots of reasons for repeating this purging exercise right now, but let’s just say that a good friend recently showed me the  proverbial light again and the fire that originally burned inside me is once again stoked and raging. Shame on me for letting it slip, but hey, good on me for recognizing it and rallying again!

One of the first things I downsized this time round was my “friend” list on Facebook. I thought seriously about just canning the whole operation but there are actually a few people who I like keeping in touch with. I also have businesses/organizations in my “friend list” that I like to get updates from because they are the type of places that cater to my interests and activities…like running, climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, food, etc. etc. Otherwise, knowing what someone who wouldn’t give me the time of day back in high school is having for breakfast and how many barns they have in Farmville was doing nothing but cluttering up my mind…and my patience. Honestly, I found myself getting angry and annoyed every time I checked my FB account. What’s the point of that?

And naturally the another thing that is instant and totally gratifying in any downsizing project is getting rid of material stuff. For instance, I’m a runner, therefore I can collect about a bazillion race shirts in a very short period of time. Easy enough to cull these babies out by adhering to the motto of “keep the tech wear shirts — toss the rest”. In the closet? If it hasn’t been worn in the last season, out it goes. Other crap. Out as well.

Music. One word: iPod. All my music is on there anyhow so time to cull those zillion CDs sitting on the shelves doing nothing but taking up space and accumulating dust.

Books. Man, I used to read about a book a week and I sincerely hope to get back to that shortly!  Some of them I’d keep and read a couple of times, especially adventure stories about overcoming tremendous obstacles or hardships. Others I’d keep because they inspired or touched me in some way. Well, I recently cut about 90% of the inventory despite my attachment to “my books”. I must say though, for as attached to them as I was, as soon as they were dropped off at the local library or used book store, I’d feel a huge weight being lifted. Plus, by donating them, others will get to read the same stories and hopefully get as much out of them as I did.

Then comes the gear category. Being an admitted gear slut, this was an onerous task for sure. Some gear comes with sentimental value because there is usually some adventure or memory associated with it. Sometimes there is even an epic story tied to it and may somehow serve as a reminder of good situations gone bad…but good outcomes because of time tested skills and trusted friends! Anyhow, I am determined to go smaller so I tried as best I could to look objectively at all the camping, climbing and skiing gear in my basement. I was resolved to sincerely trim the fat. In the end it turned in to a CraigList-a-Palooza!

One of the items I put out there was my four season mountaineering tent. I’ve seen some awesome times in that thing and it’s definitely been there for me in some absolutely wretched conditions. However, I have more than one tent and since the name of the game de jour is “go simple”, something had to go.

So I put the ad out there, complete with high resolution photos and the verbal certainty that this thing was a total bomb shelter. I also explained how there was no fading, no tears, no leaks and had been meticulously sealed and properly stored for maximum performance. And I put a price on it I knew would please the palette of even the most discerning dirt bag climber, kayaker or backcountry skier.

A few hours later I got a response from a girl named Anika. She said she was interested in the tent, thought it was a fair price, but had one question, “What are the dimensions?”. Easy enough question for a gear head like me so I shot her the details, reiterating that the tent was indeed the shizz when it came to performing in all seasons, was in awesome condition and wouldn’t dare let her down. Being late by the time I responded, I went to bed thinking I would just wait and read her response the next morning.

While I was eating my breakfast this morning I checked my email and sure enough there was another email from Anika. It wasn’t a confirmation of a sale, but that was 100% okay in this instance. In fact, her response was far better than a sale…I actually took it as  a sign.

In her response she explained that while the tent sounded great, the dimensions weren’t quite what she was looking for. Her exact words were, “Unfortunately, since I am traveling with renaissance festivals, this would be my house, so I really need a tent I can stand up in.” I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing and relevant response given my current simplification efforts. I saw her email as a confirmation and reaffirmation of my desire to live simply and make my life all about the experience once again. Man, I love it when stuff like this happens and I totally love that she’s living that free-spirited lifestyle.

Funny how people you’ve never met can have such an amazing and meaningful impact on our own lives, even without them knowing it. I feel pretty confident that Anika is living the dream (her OWN dream). Because she’s willing to live in a tent and embrace that simple life, I know she “gets it”. Because I crossed paths with Anika, I am filled with even more amazing energy that only deepens my resolve to continue to live simply, live consciously and live my own dream.

It’s a shame that I probably won’t get to meet her in person, hear her story and take her photo to “officially” include her in my Project 5430, but at least I got to cross paths with her in some small way and share in her fun energy…and that’s what life’s all about.

Thanks Anika. Safe travels.

Run long. Paddle far. Climb high. Ski hard. Live big…but simply.


2 responses to “This Would Be My House

  1. I totally agree with you about Facebook. I joined, begrudgingly, because many of my friends would not read my blog UNLESS it was also posted on Facebook (lazy huh?).

    So I got an account so bascially so I could stay in touch with others who wouldn’t be interested in reading my blog any other way. I am as annoyed about the quizzes, “so-and-so knows something about you”, hearing about when someone last walked their dog, and hearing about the last episode of such-and-such TV show (I don’t watch TV, I don’t have time, I’m too busy living and enjoying life).

    As for downsizing, that is commendable. Jeanne and I are both pack rats, though we tend to “pack” different things. She tends to some home with new “old” furniture (it’s not an antique if it’s not worth anything- it’s just old junk, is what I say ) and I collect new hobbies (I prefer to call them “passions) along with all the stuff and gear that goes along with each of them.

    But we both love books.

    We love the smell of old paper and the feeling of flipping through the pages. On my “to do” list for this winter is to build shelves for our collection. It won’t be big enough for all of them. When I was a child I dreamed of having an entire room floor to ceiling with books.

    I love the internet. I love how I can find information, basically have a library of books at my fingertips- but I love having real books too. They’re comfort food for my soul (as are many other things, like going for a long hard run…. or creating a new beer recipe… or flyfishing with my son…. or growing an organic garden… or baking a sourdough whole grain bread….. or shoeing a horse well…. or …. you get the idea….)

    I could not have done what you have done-get rid of my books.

    I admire what you did greatly. Downsizing but most definitely downsizing your books. I could part with some of them but if someone wanted to take all or most – I’d fight ’em I would. Take away most of my material possessions and as long as my family and loved ones were safe, I’d get over it- but I’d fight you for my books I would.

  2. There is a certain freedom from reducing the amount of stuff around. I believe the average growth in house size is due to all the items people collect and never thin out of their lives. Guess that is why public storage units are so common?

    Now if you have more gear laying around… (while not a pack rat I am, like you, a gear slut)

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