Last month, I spent 12 days with my daughter in Oregon. We rented an AirBnB. We enjoyed a lot of time in the mountains of the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests. She’s an avid hiker, and like me, loves the outdoors. The more time I spent in the woods, the more I felt myself really savoring the experience of getting in touch with nature. We trekked to several waterfalls, some very remote lakes, and saw things that I had never seen before. As you fellow dads can imagine, it was a special and meaningful experience.
When I got back to the Indiana flat lands, I found myself in a state of restlessness. I was antsy and unsettled. I wanted to be back in those woods. I missed those mountains. There is something about the forest that brought me a sense of deep and real peace. It was joyous. It was simple. There was no cell phone service, no internet, and no Facebook. ( sorry, Herb )
As I was thinking about my time in the woods, I decided to re-read an old favorite book of mine. The book is Walden by Henry David Thoreau. It was written in 1854 and chronicled his time living in a cabin on Walden Pond in Massachusetts. It’s been a real treat, to once again, read those words about what he believed really mattered in life. Many of his thoughts are as applicable today as they were in the mid-1800s. The highlight of the book is his call for a simple life. “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!” is his cry throughout. My favorite quote was, “If a man does not keep up with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” That really struck a chord with me. As we move through our respective journeys, we all hear our own drummer. That’s what we need to listen to. We only need to keep up with him. No one else. What works for one of us probably will not work for all of us. Friends be reminded, this is your journey. It is a journey you’re taking with guidance and support, but with no navigation app or road map. Listen to your drummer. Take this journey at your own pace.
Thoreau’s call to simplify really impacted me as well. It motivated me to start on some long overdue de-cluttering projects. (the same ones I have meant to do since March) It led me to think about the things that occupy my time and take up valuable space in my mind and my life. What the message of simplification has done is encouraged me to do some shifting in where I will be focusing my energy. I am working on moving towards doing less of the things I “like” to do and concentrate on doing more of the things I “love” to do. I am cutting back on things that bring me temporary happiness and focusing on things that bring me a deeper sense of joy.
We have all learned how important it is to stay busy during the grieving process. I agree with that. I would also suggest that busyness for the sake of being busy does not do anyone any good. Maybe we need to save and intentionally schedule some time to take care of ourselves. A walk in the woods can do wonders, so can a bike ride with your kids. An evening at home with a book can be wonderfully healing. Find something that brings you a sense of joy and instills a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Keep it simple!
Perhaps, if we start saying yes to less, it will open the door of what really matters. I believe it could have significance in our lives and the lives of those around us. I am willing to try. Are you?
Jim Winner’s thoughts can be seen here every other Thursday. You can write him by Private Messenger