To live a life without…

I’m sitting on the edge of a bed, staring out the window of a cabin on the north end of Flathead Lake. The sun is shining on an early spring afternoon. It is the first day of Spring Break 2014. Only… I don’t have spring break anymore. Thrust from 17 years of past spring breaks into this strange and uncomfortable world of post-graduation work, I can’t help but feel a strange sensation. A growing itch, a restlessness that I recognize from deep within myself. Forty more years of this? Forty years without SPRING BREAK? With two weeks of vacation per year? To be honest I’m not quite sure what to make of it.

Recently I listened to a podcast wherein a Hospice nurse of 15 years shared some very important wisdom she had come to know from her years doing end-of-life care. Spending countless hours caring for and conversing with those soon to die, she had compiled a list of the most common regrets from their lives. The top two regrets struck me as the most powerful, and most complimentary. The number two regret was the one that I assume most people have heard before, from parents or grandparents perhaps: Regret of spending too much time working, and not enough time with family and friends; emphasizing the material ‘hamster wheel’ instead of meaningful relationships. This is a trap that is so easy for all of us to fall into. Society tells us we should be working more and more, that we need to appear successful, we need to own our homes, new cars, etc. This is the drive that is pushing many of us into vast amounts of debt, that invariably leads to more issues in those relationships we so often are already neglecting.

The most common regret of the soon-to-die, struck me deep to my core: The regret of not having the courage to live life on one’s own terms. To allow society, culture, family, whatever, to push them to live in ways that weren’t true to themselves. Often that seems to manifest in regret number two, but I think there is a much deeper level to it than simply spending too much time working. There is great cognitive dissonance when we spend our time, our most precious resource, in ways that we don’t really believe are important.

These subjects are not often mentioned in our schools, colleges or universities. Parents often push their children to get good jobs, make more money,  or climb the corporate ladder (I was lucky enough to have parents who didn’t do this, but I see it often amongst my peers).  I can’t help but think that there is much to gain from these insights into the minds of the near-deceased. Although I will certainly have many regrets at the end of my life, I truly hope that those top two are not on my list.

 

Thanks for reading,

With love,

 

-G

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Minimally Primal? What’s with that?

With the creation of this new blog, it seems apt to explain the title: ‘Minimally Primal’.  Those who are close to me can probably figure it out, and are probably sick of seeing the word ‘primal’ on everything I have done for the past several years. My first blog, which I began my freshman year of college, was aptly called The Primal Insomiac. Blending my interest in primal living, with the fact that I often posted late into the hours of the morning. I started this new blog to step away from my earlier writings and ideas as I push forward into adulthood.

Let’s examine the two words that I derived this title from, which both are of important relevance to my life today, and my outlook on the world.

Minimal/Minimalist

  • min·i·mal·ist
  • [ mínnəm’list ]
  1. advocate of smaller role for government: somebody who advocates restricting the power and goals of something, especially somebody who wishes to limit the role of government
  2. practitioner of artistic minimalism: somebody whose works of art, literature, or music display the simplicity associated with minimalism
  3. providing minimum amount: providing only the least amount that is needed

The emboldened third, is the closest to the definition which I use for my life. I became interested in minimalist living early in my college career, after discovering the works of Leo Babauta over at Zenhabits and Mnmlist. I was also inspired at the time (and to this day) by the famous quotes of Henry David Thoreau:

“Our lives are frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.” 

and further, Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his response to the above Thoreau quote: 

“Don’t you think one ‘simplify’ is enough?”

Today there are hundreds, maybe thousands of blogs out there about minimalist living. I can say with certainty that there are about as many definitions of what minimalist living is, as there are blogs based upon the idea. From living strictly with less than 100 material items, to living and traveling with nothing more than a backpack, I chose to take a lighter approach. To me, minimalist living means distilling life down to its core purposes by not clouding life with excess material possessions. Does this mean that I go and throw out my skis, or my camping gear because I don’t use it every day? Of course not. Instead, to me, it implies that I own a single pair of skis, or a single fishing pole, because that’s all that is really needed for me to do what I enjoy. 

So often I see people get wrapped up in the ‘things’ associated with the activities that they love the most. So much so, that the collection of associated ‘things’ becomes more of a hobby than the activity that the gear is supposed to support. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, aside from rampant consumerism and materialism, but I think it’s important to ask oneself: “Do I really enjoy fishing? Or the collection of fishing gear?”.  I have certainly fallen into the gear-junkie trap from time to time, but eventually pull myself out and re-examine my purpose.

Minimalism is a means to a more purpose and activity driven life, not an end in itself.

Now, you may ask, “this primal business, what’s that about?”

Primal Living, as I may refer to it from time to time, I first learned about from the works of Mark Sisson, over at Marks Daily Apple. Primal Living refers to the diet and lifestyle inspired by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The Primal Diet is very similar, and I use it relatively interchangeably with the Paleo diet. Most everyone within the fitness community today has heard of these, or similar diets. 

I began experimenting with the primal diet my freshman year of college, and since then have relapsed time and again. To eat like our ancestors, eschewing most grains, legumes and starchy carbohydrates, is to me still the best way to fuel my body. I derive my approach from several similarly inspired resources, such as Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Body, Dave Asprey’s  Bulletproof Exec, and Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint. All three of these health and fitness gurus have vastly different styles, and all have large amounts of free information available via blogs and podcasts. 

As a side note, to anyone who has ever seen the “aboriginal” tattoo on my leg, the little guy is known as “Grok” in the primal community, and you can learn about the symbol here. The funny part of my tattoo story, is that I got the tattoo after viewing many such tattoos as part of a contest on Mark Sisson’s blog. Unbeknownst to me, all of the tattoos in the photos were temporary tattoos… while mine is forever permanent (I didn’t discover that the others were fake until nearly two years later!). I guess the lesson is to not take life, or yourself, too seriously.

So there you have it, Minimally Primal. The combination of my interest in both living minimally, and being constantly inspired both those who have come before us. There will be much more on both topics coming in the future! Any questions or ideas are always welcome 🙂

With love, until next time.

-G

 

 

Excuses, and the challenge of doing.

Two and a half years ago, I moved from the rolling hills of the Midwestern US, to the dry, rugged mountains and valleys of the Northern Rockies. My love for the outdoors and the need for a change of scenery pushed me to make this decision. Having wanted to live in the mountains since learning to snow ski in Colorado at a young age, I had grandiose visions of what my life out west would be like. I imagined skiing every weekend, summiting alpine peaks, pulling in monster rainbow trout from crystalline rivers and spending cool evenings around a blazing fire.

Looking back on the time I have spent here, I can honestly say that I can count my skiing expeditions on one hand. I have climbed exactly zero “alpine peaks”, have realized my extreme lack of fly fishing knowledge and have sat around only a few “blazing fires” amongst friends.

This recent reflection on my time here was inspired by an article over at Semi-Rad, one of my favorite outdoor blogs. In the article, Brendan describes “Chris”, who has an impressive list of outdoor accomplishments, despite having a regular day job and the obligations that most all of us have:

“I think what makes Chris Chris is that he never has an excuse,” his friend Andy says.

“People ask how he makes time to do all the rad stuff he does, but in reality, everyone

has that time. They just don’t have the drive to get out there. They don’t have that first

kick to get out the door.”  – (Found here)

Reading this passage hit me like a bag of bricks. An inspiration-bomb of sorts. It made me realize that I’ve been making excuses, often to avoid the things that I really would love to be doing. This is a realization that I had come across several months ago, but had not given it the time or mental energy to really inspect. I’ve caught myself making these excuses before – “Work has me too busy”, “I just don’t have the time”, “I’ll get to it someday”, “Must be nice to be able to go and do _____”.

Sound familiar?

I realized that I’m the one holding myself back. It’s not a lack of time, or a lack of resources. It’s about priorities. So I have decided to begin now. To begin living the life that I had imagined for myself so long ago. I may not ski every weekend, or climb the highest peaks, but that will not stop me from quenching my thirst for adventure. It begins now.

So don’t let your excuses get in the way of your dreams, go out and grab them. Start small if you have to, weekend and overnight trips are no less valuable than month long expeditions. Heck, if that’s all you can ever do, it’s better than sitting back and watching your life slip through your fingers. It’s all in your perspective, and how you value your time.

Until next time, with love

-G