Life is not an ever-growing collection of successes and failures. It's not a bag of decisions, opinions, mistakes, or mishaps, or a rucksack full of bricks that you're condemned to drag through the sludges of time.
Life is more like the stroke of a paintbrush, emptying itself of all that clings to it and refining its precision with the passage of time. It's the vessel that exists to hold water, effortlessly releasing its contents to the next destination.
It's important to remember that not every destination can be reached by a well-paved path: some destinations require taking flight. When it's time to fly you just can't fill a giant bag with everything in your life and expect that plane to soar.
If where you're going is important, decide what really matters and take responsibility for your freedom. Hold tight to everything and everyone that will support your voyage and let go of everything else. Embrace your essence and when there is doubt let love lighten your load: a life painted in love outweighs a voyage completed unprepared.
Look into her eyes. Look at the expression her mouth makes, the red marks left by tears on her cheeks, the grit underneath her nails. Now tell me that cup of coffee I was drinking is somehow more important.
Every time you buy something you don't need or spend time in the pursuit of a selfish goal, you're placing a vote that says you'd rather see people suffer than sacrifice your own wants and desires.
You can push the starving children out of your head and tell yourself that you'd do more if you could. You can remind yourself that you're a good person and that you have your own problems to deal with.
But none of that changes the fact that there are 2 billion people living on the same planet as you, sharing the same resources, breathing the same air, and yet surviving on a standard of living far below what you would consider humane.
None of that changes the fact that there are 17,000 children dying every single day from preventable causes.
There are no subtle exceptions. The coffee I'm drinking right now is a vote for poverty because I wasted $2 to satisfy my craving for caffeine instead of using that money to feed a hungry family for an entire week. Continue reading →
It was below freezing and I was sweating profusely. A light snow dusted the ground, hiding small patches of ice that littered the rocky trail and made each step questionable.
It wasn't supposed to be a tough hike, but the weather, the extra clothing, and the weight on my back were all adding to the challenge.
I generally hike alone and for a short trek like this one I wouldn't have brought a backpack. However, a friend came along this time and insisted that one of us bring a bag for food, water, and extra warm gear.
I always prefer a challenge so I asked to be the one to carry the bag. But halfway up the trail, sweating, and out of breath, I suffocated my ego and handed the bag over to my friend.
Without the bag, my body felt so light. I began hopping from rock to rock, practically running up the mountain without so much as an elevated heart rate.
The freedom was exhilarating.
And then I landed on a patch of ice and almost slipped. Continue reading →
Last week my nephew celebrated his first birthday and over the weekend I attended two birthday parties for him. I watched as he opened numerous presents and found himself surrounded with more toys than he could possibly know what to do with.
He played with each toy for a few moments until he seemed to become so overwhelmed by everything around him that he reached up for his mother (my sister) with open arms. The abundance was too much. He just wanted simplicity.
It was easier to return to the familiar comfort of his mothers' arms than it was to indulge in the excess of toys surrounding him.
I realized that like my nephew being surrounded with toys, we often surround ourselves with more than we know what to do with and, as a result, we become physically and psychologically overloaded.
Stress, feelings of isolation, boredom, a missing sense of purpose and direction, confusion, self-doubt, a lack of enthusiasm -- all of these are evidence of living with more than we can handle. Continue reading →
"How many bags?"
"Just one" I replied, motioning to the small 30L backpack on my shoulder.
"And how much luggage?"
"None... just this one bag."
It's as if people can not comprehend someone traveling with only one bag. Everyone, from the airline ticket attendant, to the taxi driver, to the clerk at the hotel, seemed to insist that I must have more luggage.
I sat down in an empty section of Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport and put my bag down on the seat next to me. As I watched people wrestle with multiple suitcases, I looked over at my lonely bag and remembered how different my life used to be. Continue reading →