Minimalism is a new trend that has been surfacing the last few years. The idea is to get rid of and not accumulate too many things to free up your time, energy and budget to live a lighter more centered life. Minimalists and our younger generation seem to prefer experiences over things. The older generations seemed to think that more stuff was the answer, but this way of thinking is beginning to shift. The tiny house movement is an example of how this movement is taking shape.
I’m not sure that “experiences” is the best word to use to describe what humans are longing for? Is the whole point of us being here on this planet to create the longest “experiences” list as possible? I think of it more as the “feelings” that those experiences bring. Remembering a positive experience will bring back feelings through memories. And this is what I think humans cherish. In the end all that will be left are these feelings. These are the most powerful thing that this life here has to offer us. In reality, these feelings ARE life. These feelings will be what people will talk about at your funeral and when they remember you after you pass on. To fully embrace these feelings while we’re alive is the way to live fully. I believe that it is that simple.
The problem is that we can’t pick and choose which feelings that we want to feel. By opening ourselves to feel the positive feelings more deeply we also open ourselves up to the not so pleasant feelings. I purposely didn’t use the term “negative” because even if these feelings are not pleasant, there still isn’t anything wrong with them. They are a normal part of what it means to be alive. Like I said, to open is to open to all feelings. There is no other way.
Society doesn’t do a very good job of teaching us this and our self-protection human nature kicks in trying to protect us from harm and we start unconsciously learning to avoid difficult and painful feelings. And society thinks of those who get really good at this as the “strong” ones. They are the ones who show no emotion, or show fake ones, going through life with very thick armor surrounding them. First of all this is not true strength. And this armor also isolates us from our ability to feel the positive feelings which are the best part of being alive.
When Adele was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes close to 15 years ago, the unpleasant feelings that arose were overwhelming for me. I imagine that if I spoke with other Type 1 parents that they would surely agree that they also had a similar experience. Adele was only 2 years old and it killed me to have to shove needles into her many times every single day while she kicked and screamed. It was all happening so fast. There was no time to grieve. There was no time to deal with or feel these unpleasant feelings. Looking back, I now realize that I mostly became numb and just put up a happy front. I just stuffed these feelings inside and moved on. That’s what society expects. Nobody wants to be dealing with a basket case so I reacted by stiffening my upper lip.
I only cried once when the doctor gave us Adele’s diagnosis. After that it was all business. Everyone kept telling me that things would get better with time. So I went with that. One thing about Type 1 gaming is that even if insulin doses are spot on one day, the next they can be dangerously way off. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve just been diagnosed or if you’ve been playing the Type 1 game for decades, the truth is that nothing really changes with time. It’s a chronic life-long disease that needs to be dealt with 24-7 with no vacation whatsoever. Insulin is not a cure. It is life-support.
What did happen in time is that I became more and more shielded from all feelings thus all of life. Now I had never been very open to expressing my feelings to begin with, but this got even worse after Adele’s Type 1 diagnosis. It even got to the point where it affected my relationship with my wife. She used to say that I would always be “in my own little bubble” and she was right. We became more and more disconnected. The concussion last summer broke me open. And now I can become teary eyed listening to music. Just like that, sitting at work listening to tunes and I feel water welling up in the corner of my eye. I feel it build from my heart and move up and out to my eyes. In those times I kindof wished that I had not popped my bubble or protective shield, but the depth of my relationships have increased so much that I would never want to go back. Actually, once you are open I believe that there is no going back.