How an excellent, in-your-face query can help you change your world. Notes on changing life for the better.
Dear Reader: This is part of a series I've been doing on the process of letting go of stuff and a way of life late in life. This is taking a while, but the advantage is that this gives me time to look far more deeply at the lessons I'm learning. I've discussed so far how it feels to let go of beloved belongings. This weekend, a good friend asked me a very confrontational question which forced an important issue.
Kevin and his mother stood in my kitchen, midway between taking the huge hand-carved bed out of my expansive bedroom. Kevin's my chiropractor. Linda, his mother, is my masseuse and soon to be my landlady.
Life is changing VERY fast.
Kevin's one of those immensely-gifted athletes who won all kinds of awards, a decathlete from nearby Creswell whose gifts led him to help others improve their bodies. He's tall, with huge boulder shoulders that came to him through hard work and genetics. Cobblestone abs. A Jack Reacher type but without the brawling nature. As he approaches fifty, his body performs far better in sprints, high jumps, dead lifts and other areas than when he set records in his twenties.
I have a lot of regard for that. As might we all. On top of that he is all about personal growth. My kind of friend.
I was showing them where I would stand in my kitchen and watch the birds.
Kevin, in his inimitable way, asked me at what point I gave up experiences for staying home.
Talk about an in-your-face question. It's not just that I really identify as this badass adventure traveler. I could argue, with good cause, that Covid and injuries got in my way.
But that's a total copout.
The greater truth, in part, and what I told them both, was that the house was surrounded by what I used to travel to see.
That, and the fact that the house was so lovely, so comfortable, so reassuring, filled with all the memories and proof of my badassery that I slipped into wanting to hang out at home rather than train hard the way I always had.
God DAMN it, I dislike that kind of peelback.
True friends ask such questions. Kevin explained that he would prefer experiences ANY day to things. That's how I used to see myself, too.
It's one of the reasons I like the man. And it's also one of the many reasons that my things, ALL of them but a very few, are being slowly sold off at the local fine consign store. The money that drips in each month is soon to be funneled off to earn interest and pay for, wait for it....
Linda said that she'd never lived in a house like that. Me neither. I grew up poor, and so such a gorgeous custom home had always been a dream. For me, however, that dream morphed into the pretty prison that it was. I told them that over time the house became a Venus flytrap.
I am going to miss some of what the house is. The surrounding forests, the wildlife, the gorgeous home itself.
I will NOT miss the slipping physical health that staying home has cost me, the insipid laziness that caused me to choose to sit and stare at the woods rather than explore the state's hiking trails. I had that kind of pretty right outside.
What a superb lesson in how comfort sucks the adventure right out of us.
To be fair, I didn't shut all of it down. Nor did I avoid heading out on adventures. I just lost that special edge on which I counted for decades. I slipped into being more comfortable at home more often than being uncomfortable.
That is deadly for me.
The problem was that too often, given the choice of heading to Mt. Pisgah to train, I would put in a movie and relax. I would find a reason to stand in my kitchen and watch the birds. I really did love that. But that habit doesn't love my fitness levels.
I didn't stop training. I stopped training hard. I can see and feel the difference.
I've never done that before.
So Kevin's question hit me where I live, how I identify, and forced me to look very hard at what I had created. I am dismantling all of it with his help, with the absolute intention of rebuilding the experience-based life which requires hard training.
I still push harder than most. That said, my standards are different.
The other day I wrote about how grateful I was for feeling the awful pain from my hand surgery. There is no way you and I can develop compassion and empathy for others until we have an similar experience.
When beloved friends like Kevin and Melissa thrown down the gauntlet for me, they are asking me to be the kind of truth-teller I really hope to be. There are times I am not being terribly honest with myself.
The danger is that I can write myself into believing I am ALL THAT when in fact I am losing my edge. That happened. I deeply dislike having to admit this. However, if I don't, I commit the greater sin of being dishonest to Dear Reader.
I will not do that. For that is a high crime.
Here's what I value most. By giving up this lovely house, by giving up all the custom goodies and moving into a smaller, older place without the custom fireplace and the hot water dispenser blah blah blah and surrounding myself with an outdoor family, I am forcing the issue. Kevin's entire family is outdoor-crazy.
I'm quite intentional here. I've seen what happened to my life, body and intentions when I surrounded myself with all the comforts I never had before. Even as I wrote about that very thing I didn't notice how those same comforts were costing me a level of motivation that I had banked on for years.
Comforts suck the lifeblood out of us. So I am giving that up. All of it.
I have three more surgeries ahead. Linda's offered to help out. Kevin's got all my workout gear at his offices. Scattered across his extended family are many of my things. If I want to look at them, I can visit them.
More importantly, by giving up this gorgeous, expensive, pretty prison, I am pushing myself back into discomfort, where I grow.
Don't like your life? Change something. Of course it's hard. What's far harder is staring down your resistance in the mirror.
I surround myself with friends who force the issue. That's terribly uncomfortable.
That's the whole point.
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