Now, I am pushing forward into Stage 3: Persistence.
I just finished a great book, Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. And while a distance running book might not seem to have much to do with simplifying one’s life, perhaps it does.
Born to Run makes a decent case for the proposition that persistence is one of the characteristics that really distinguishes homo sapiens. In investigating our passion for running, McDougall notes that we do long distances better than any other creature.
Over a long enough distance, we can outrun the horse, the gazelle, the cheetah. In fact, he suggests that homo sapiens survived in good part due to our ability to carry out ‘persistence kills’ – long, long pursuits where our ancestors essentially ran their prey to death.
McDougall is mainly interested in physique – and features such as our ‘naked’ skin that allows us to cool overheating bodies when on a long trek. But it also got me wondering whether, over all those years of evolution, we developed a distinctive capacity for persistence.
For surely, in addition to the physical ability to ‘go long,’ we needed to develop the mental resilience to stay with a pursuit or task.
As a runner, I work on my persistence – one stride after another. And in doing so, it occurs to me that my struggle toward simplifying my home, my office, my ‘stuff,’ is a very similar pursuit. It isn’t going to happen in a sprint. Simplicity is not a single day task.
In fact, it is not a task at all – it needs to be a habit. So, since my last post on the subject, I have been chanting the mantra of persistence. As a result, simplicity is starting – just starting – to become a bit of a habit.
Visit our house these days and you are likely to go away with more than you arrived with. It helps that our daughter is now in her first owned home, so we can downsize our possessions by contributing to hers.
On a day-to-day basis, I find myself more and more likely to grab a pile of files, or magazines, or home fix-it materials, and question its existence. At least its existence in my home.
Slowly, glacier-like, the piles are receding. Recycle bins get filled. Ads are placed on Kijiji and UsedVictoria and Freecycle. Not everything has to happen at once. I migrate a pile of old electronics into the garage. Then they are sorted and piled in the car. On a future trip, they will be dropped at a charity electronics reuse centre.
The results begin to show – I can now see the floor of the basement utility room. Gone are the extra fridge, the ancient Christmas decorations we never used, the old packing boxes for stuff that is long since off warranty. Space begins to open up in front of my eyes. I feel good.
The race is long. Beyond a marathon. An ultra-marathon. Perhaps this journey doesn’t end until I do. But I will persist.
“Runner in the Light” Jonny Hat @ Flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.
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