Healthy Life Tip: Simplify what you have to enjoy life more
Contributed by Marta Czajkowska
I’m a rock climber. I recently climbed Half Dome in Yosemite, spending multiple days on the wall. Up there our days were filled with endless effort and tenacity, and our nights were short and uncomfortable. And we had next to nothing with us.
Everything we wanted for the trip, we needed to pack, and pack lightly, since we would be hauling it all up with our own body strength. ‘Everything’ means every single thing: water, food, sleeping gear, clothes, bandaids, chapstick. If we didn’t pack something, such as sunglasses, too bad. No running back into the house to pick it up. Climbers learn to pack smart. And even then, we’re living in constant deprivation. No toilet, no bed, no shade. Just us, the rock, and a few necessities for survival.
Maybe it’s the feeling of reaching the top that makes it all worthwhile. And maybe it’s the very experience itself: something about surviving – even thriving – in adversity and scarcity.
Upon coming back to the ground and my car, I felt a sense of abundance. A bottle of coconut water was sitting right there, in my car, requiring zero effort for me to get it. Wow! Moving over terrain with the aid of motor vehicle felt incredible; after moving upwards at turtle speed for days, 60 MPH felt so fast! I looked in my small clothes bag – many choices of clean shorts and tank tops! Now for celebrating: Where do I want to eat? Seemingly endless options!
From feeling appreciation of all the comforts of modern world, I moved on to feeling a sense of overwhelm. Why do I need all this? Everything was so simple up on the wall. A clear goal provided a singular focus. The extreme limitation of material goods actually provided a sense of peace. I had spent 3 full days and nights without thinking how to get a single thing, since it was impossible.
Rock climbing proves to me how little we can get by on. It’s the ultimate minimalist experience. That said, we don’t really have to disappear onto a vertical sea of granite to be able to enjoy everyday life more fully. How about spending a whole day without any material items? A cell phone turned off and the wallet put away. Maybe just me and my water bottle. A day at the ocean, on a river or a taking hike – with only the bare minimum to get by. The feeling of a simple shower or a hot meal at the end of such a day can be glorious!