Thursday, March 14, 2013

Introspection, Part 1: Enough

I took this picture just a little under six years ago.  In two months' time I'll be on that same spot.
This past week has been simply massive.

First off, I got a ton of stuff done.

  • confirmed the move-out date with my rental company 
  • bought insurance and a ticket for Ireland 
  • sorted things at my various different workplaces, including setting end dates for three of my five current jobs *gulp gulp* 
  • began the herculean task of sorting everything I own into "keep" or "shed" piles and boxes...and then going back through the "keep" piles and cutting those down ever further
  • bought a huge amount of food and had a big ol' cooking day, with enough chicken soup and chili and roasted veggies made to last the whole week (with a little help from eggs).  This is obviously not enormous but it was inspired by my recently-discovered adoration for M F K Fisher and Tamar Adler, and helped keep the get-shit-done mood going, and was enormously more efficient as the week progressed

The second arena wherein Big Things have been taking place is a little less obvious.  As I weed and plan, simultaneously simplifying and introducing a whole boatload of new uncertainties and potential for worry into my life, it's bound to spur a fair amount of soul-searching.  This has been particularly fueled by a couple of blog posts that struck me recently, both especially applicable to my current situation.

The first: "How Much Is Enough?" from Leo Babauta at zenhabits.  I've been asking myself this same question endlessly - every time I fill another box with books, or put all my coffee cups away after washing them, or put in earrings.  What do I need?  What do I not necessarily need but am happier to have than not? What can I afford to shed?

Leo writes that "enough" really means "having enough to live, and enough to be happy, and enough to thrive."  And, I would add, no more than that.  Any more stuff than your particular situation and necessities require turns into useless roots, not contributing anything but still there, taking up valuable space and tying you down, and freezing you into inaction when you try contemplate the question of "do I really need this?"  Even if you don't, if you've had it for so long that it seems forever, getting rid of the ancient unnecessary is a terrifying thought.  We all know how this feels, whether we're considering objects, jobs, relationships...the list goes on.

In the post, he lists seven key questions to ask yourself and help determine what, exactly, is enough for you.  I've copied them below, along with my first drafts of answers.

1. What are the main things that make you happy?
Movement in all forms.  Good food.  Time and communication with family and friends.  Free time.  Sunshine.  Swimming.  A change of scene and pace on a regular basis.

2. What do you need to thrive?This one's harder to answer so quickly. Leo continues, though: "You want to be good at what you do, and do what you love. You want to be passionate about the things you do, and be successful at them."  In that case: instruction in the movement arts - martial, dance, anything else I come across.  Specialty kitchen equipment, like a pickle crock or nukadoko, and the highest-quality ingredients I can manage.  A garden of some type or size - right now I've got one ivy plant and a pot of mint.  The furnishings, acquired or built myself, to ensure that I have a warm, welcoming space for people to sit and talk and drink wine and sing until dawn.  Travel, travel, travel.  The wherewithal and time to dive into a crazy project now and again.

3. What do you need to survive at a comfortable level?
I can think of two major things right off the bat that I don't have now: a dark room at night, and one full day completely off every week.  Other than that: a comfortable bed, regular communication with family and friends, regular physical contact with other living creatures - hugging people, petting animals, etc - a computer, a car.

4. What do you have beyond those things needed for survival, comfort, happiness and thriving?
Lots and lots and lots of books.  Little knick-knacks collected over the years - some precious, some shrug-worthy.  I'm starting to ponder whether I really need a smartphone.  It's good for a wifi hotspot in lieu of an internet provider, but other than that, the only features beyond what my computer does are calls and texting.

5. What do you desire that goes beyond that - beyond what's needed for survival, comfort, happiness and thriving?
All of the movement things all of the time - CrossFit, Systema, ninjitsu, swing, parkour, on and on.  I tell people that if it were up to me I'd never leave the dojo - except for the dance floor, or the forest, or the get my drift.  Not only to go out with friends whenever the opportunity presents itself, but to join in the dinners and drinks along with everyone else, when I've got plenty of food at home.  Fancy coffee drinks, and too many of them.  New clothing instead of making do with what I have or waiting til the requisite items appear in the thrift store.  Impromptu trips - the less time in advance, the more money necessary to enact it, generally.  A place to live that's not just sufficient but beautiful, and situated in an area just as beautiful, which would require more driving, unless I move to Galway.

6. If you didn't want to have more than enough, could you work less?

7.  If you worked less, could you be happy with enough, and happy doing other things?
...I don't know.  I don't know if I'd long for more movement classes if I cut those out of my budget and worked on the arts I can practice solo, like parkour and non-partner dances.  That's where the rub really is for me - I can do without a lot of possessions, but my passions, while they are experiences rather than objects, still cost money, which means work.

Lots to ponder here.  Soon to come: reflections on "How Can I Make Peace With Uncertainty?" from Joanna Powell Colbert.


1 comment:

  1. Yay for being so proactive and getting things DONE! I am so bad about doing anything lately..but this post was inspirational!