April 29, 2013
Running has become a recent obsession of mine. I love the huge feeling of accomplishment after a run. So yesterday I ran my first half marathon.
This half marathon was part of the OKC Memorial Marathon. ~25,000 runners showed up for the event. Overall, it was a spectacular run. The event planners did a fantastic job of making the race memorable. I highly recommend the Memorial Marathon to fellow runners.
The race begins and ends at the OKC bombing site, making it a reverent event. Prior to the gun going off there is a moment of silence for the victims of the bombing. This is a perfect way to get into the mode before a run. The energy really moves through the crowd during the moment of silence.
Another favorite part about the run was that the locals of OKC lined the entire 13.1 mile route. Thanks OKC for the support!
Luckily, I was able to run with this special lady (my mother).
Also, kudos to Shane Wilson for training me for the run. Next stop, marathon.
April 24, 2013
"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." - Antoine de Saint-Exupe
Since last December I have been dabbling with minimalism. This change has proven to be more than just a lifestyle change; it has revolutionized my entire way of thinking. I approach problems radically different than before.
My forays into minimalism began when I moved from an apartment into a house. I enjoy a change of scenery so I have moved at least once per year since the start of my college career. While living at my apartment I had accumulated massive piles of stuff: kitchenware, furniture, electronics, wall decorations, household items, clothes, amongst many other things.
I was immensely proud of all the possessions I had been able to acquire. My line of reasoning for all this stuff was that if I could purchase enough quality possessions over time that I would save money and be better off. I was excited to think that after graduating college I would have a house full of stuff already paid for.
And then I moved. My apartment was on the third floor. It was no problem to carry all of this stuff up three flights of stairs over a year's time. Moving those things back down the stairs, however, took several days. It was terrible. Also, in my new house I did not have room or need for all of the furniture and stuff that I had collected. It was frustrating to carefully collect all of these things only to realize how much they truly cost to own beyond the initial purchase. It was literally costing money for the extra space my stuff needed and the added cost of moving. Eventually I realized that moving frequently and hoarding stuff do not mesh. As my friend Tyler Durden from Fight Club once said, "the things you own end up owning you."
In an effort to remedy the situation, I decided to live a leaner lifestyle. I needed to choose between what was important enough to keep and what to toss out. It took many sentimental moments before I broke down and decided to go with the bare minimum of stuff I need to survive. My wardrobe was large enough to accommodate several people, my massive book collection was full of books that would not be read again, and the gadgets I was hoarding were collecting dust. I began the process of trashing, selling, and giving away most of my possessions. This process took four months and I am proud to say that as of yesterday my work is complete.
What is left?
Not much. It is important to analyze what you truly need to function, and also flourish. I am a software developer so I cannot go without a computer. Hence, on the gadget front I have cut myself down to a MacBook, iPad, Kindle, and iPhone. These four collectively fit in a backpack with no problem. Sounds like an adventure waiting to happen.
Clothing is important too. I cut my wardrobe down to a couple of dress shirts, 8 t-shirts, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of khakis, shorts, running shoes, dress shoes, 1 jacket, 1 coat, suit, and a couple of other things for warm weather. An interesting thing happened when I thinned the wardrobe I worked so hard to build: no longer did I have to wear clothes that were ugly or did not fit properly. I only wear what looks best on me. Consequently, I do not get to wear a unique outfit every day of the year, but seriously, who keeps track. Doing laundry is much simpler now and packing for travel only takes minutes instead of an hour.
I had amassed a large collection of books. These were the easiest to get rid of because I gave them away to friends, which made me look like a super awesome person. I still love to read every day and have no plans to quit. My entire book collection has been replaced with a Kindle. It is better than reading paper. I can now carry an entire library around with me instead of just one or two bulky books. I highly recommend a Kindle to anyone who loves reading.
The last thing that I got rid of to kick off my minimalist lifestyle was my sports car. I finally sold it yesterday. Although fun to drive, it was expensive to own. I have opted to go without a vehicle for now while at college because I am not driving many places anyways. Fortunately, all of my work takes place over the Internet so there is no workplace that I must drive to everyday. When I do need to go somewhere then I can usually coax a friend or family member to help me out. Beer seems to be a universal bargaining chip.
Immediately after getting rid of things I have been happier. Common sense would say that I missed all of those things. Honestly, I cannot remember most of the things I used to own, let alone miss them. There is some psychology behind this. We were not meant to be hoarders; we are nomads. Although we do not have to move around all the time, our brains cannot remember all of the junk that is stockpiled in the closet or garage.
April 22, 2013
Yesterday I made the leap. I finally did it. I quit Facebook.
I have been a Facebook user since 2007. Initially, the site was great because all of my friends were on it, we would communicate, life was happy. Fast forward to 2013. Something fundamental about Facebook has changed. I was no longer a happy user. I dreaded getting on Facebook, yet I would do it several times per day. I tried thinning out my friends list in hopes of improving the quality of Facebook. It made little difference. The problem, I realized, is that the signal to noise ratio on Facebook is really low. This phenomenon has been documented many times over. It came down to the fact that the signal to noise ratio was so low that it was no longer worth endless wandering in hopes of uncovering a couple of gems.
The end of my Facebook days marks a new commitment to improved offline relationships. I can no longer see what music my friends are listening to, what they did last weekend, or even where they are living without asking them. This leads to stronger relationships by bringing back the real social interactions that Facebook took away. Automating social interactions does not make one more social. In fact, often the opposite is true.
This means that I will no longer be able to keep up with all of the hundreds of friends I previously had. That is okay. I am sure most of those people do not want me hounding them about their life anyways. Basically, the choice was between hundreds of weak (non-existent) relationships or a smaller set of high-quality relationships.
Another problem that I had with Facebook was the material I was sharing. Instead of updating people on what I was eating (I occassionally did that too), I was sharing stories and opinions. Anyone that has been forced to listen to my opinions knows they are not brief. I found myself writing paragraphs for status updates. That was just not cool. My opinions and stories now have a new home. So, if any friends still want to keep up with my life, this is where they can find me.