Monday, February 26, 2018

Pick a boulder, kick it over your shoulder

After suffering a collapsed lung in my mid twenties, keeping my life as light as possible has become an important goal. 

Because I now know how it feels to be literally crushed under the weight of my own stress. After spending a week in the hospital with a breathing tube in my chest, frankly, I’m no longer interested in making each day heavier than it needs to be. I’m no longer in the world domination business. 

And not that I’m against working hard, and not that I need to scrub my life clean of any and all pain and struggle and adversity. But often times, the armor that weighs us down, the heaviness that exhausts us, it's rarely as noble as we think it is. 

These boulders that we kick over our shoulders, heroic as they might make us feel, are often more trouble than they’re worth. 

I have a friend who consults with big companies about productivity. One of the strategies he tells clients is:

Don’t ask how to accomplish the steps faster, ask how many of the steps are redundant. 

This distinction is hugely helpful for me. Especially when I’m abruptly thrown into a new project or situation or environment. Turns out, cutting dead weight from the process right out of the gate keeps me from getting overwhelmed. 

It allows me to lean into the discomfort, which feels tolerable, as opposed to getting coldcocked by the distress, which impairs my ability to function. 

Clooney’s classic monologue from Up In The Air comes to mind:

How much does your life weigh? We stuff it all these things into our backpack, and when we try to walk, it’s kind of hard. This is what we do to ourselves on a daily basis. We weigh ourselves down until we can’t even move. And make no mistake, moving is living. But all those negotiations and arguments, and secrets and compromises, you don’t need to carry all that weight. Why don’t you set that bag down? Why don’t you let everything burn and wake up tomorrow with nothing. And yet, the problem with the backpack is, we feel the straps cutting into our shoulders and that tells us we’re alive. 

The goal, then, is for each of us to effect small, concrete ways to make our lives lighter. 

Like when I noticed that my yoga studio had lockers where I could store my clothes and water bottle overnight, instead of schlepping a stinky backpack to the studio every day. 

Or when my office installed cloud software for data storage, which meant I no longer had to bring my laptop and hard drives into work each day. 

These strategies physically made my life lighter, because I was longer tethered to my gym bag and briefcase. But they also lightened my emotional load as well, because I no longer felt the part of me that was always bursting to rid itself of all this psychic weight. 

It’s this strange correlational thing that happens between the body and the spirit. 

Once we let lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us, we’re free to run with endurance the race that is set before us. 

Because we don’t have to worry about those goddamn straps cutting into our shoulders.

Instead of walking faster, what if you simply carried less in your pack on the trail and then ran?

* * * *

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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