I’ve been occupied by the intersections of three different experiences in the last ten days: my half-marathon run last Sunday, the decluttering of my home this past week, and reading the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
The half-marathon was not easy. There were several moments when I wanted to give up, give in and quit. What kept me going? On all of my longer runs, it is always the release. In my daily life, I battle noise. The noise of my own thoughts, the clamor of the dryer throwing around clothes, the water rushing through the dishwasher, and the desires and needs of others, whether it is from my husband, daughter or friends. Sometimes it is too much all at once. My half-marathon gave me a chance to purge some of that noise. If you can push pass the pain in your tendons, lower back and knees, you reach a point of absolute quiet. And the only thing you are thinking about is the run. Putting one foot in front of the other and inching toward the finish. The noise of everything else becomes extinct. I’ve held on to this feeling and my words don’t really reveal the true gravity of this kind of elation. You have to run to know what it is.
After the run, my mind shifted to the physical noise around me. I admit that we are people with stuff. A lot of unnecessary stuff. For the past week, I went through every room and purged things that didn’t belong. The shirt that I haven’t worn in six years – gone. The toys my daughter doesn’t even give a second glance – donated. The pots and pans that only take up space but serve no real utility – eliminated. What I enjoy about this process is creating physical space to breathe. I was determined to keep a drawer or cabinet empty in each room to honor silence. This process automatically makes you think again before buying your next item/gadget/clothing/purse. Most of the time I don’t really need the additional noise. And the truth is I breathe easier knowing that everything in our house remains because it was a choice for it to be there. That it serves a function or purpose.
Part of these lessons were eloquently discussed by Christopher McDougall in his book Born to Run. Pick it up and read it if you have the chance. There are many lessons that are not only applicable to running, but to life. His focus is on the Tarahumara Indians and their lifestyle of ultramarathon running. These are a people who run hundreds and hundreds of miles in a few days. Their life is solitary, focused on the actual happiness of the run and the solitude it brings. Where they live there is no access to the internet or social networking sites or hanging out at a party during the weekend. They build their lives around their inner core. Reading some of these passages made me think of some of interpersonal connections and obligations that I feel like I have to participate in because it is the accepted thing to do. Lately, though, I’m questioning the utility of falling into this vortex. Are my social obligations taking away from my ability to focus on my own personal development? Some social connections are simply noise. But the problem becomes recognizing this and actually doing something about it.
I found the intersection of these three experiences, running, decluttering, and reading offered me an identifiable way to purge some of my noise. On my way to quiet? I realize I have a long way to go to really adopt a “noise” free lifestyle. For now, I am content in at least beginning the path.
Where is the noise in your life? Are you willing to purge it? Have you experience the elation I am talking about after a run or decluttering or reading a good book?