Not Tolerating Your Own Excuses

Unless something happens, when you read this I will have gone over 900 miles round trip to attend a funeral. When I was told about the funeral, I instantly thought of reasons not to go.  Due to this distance, I had to take off work the day before, the day of, and the day after. It’s a long ways to go by myself, since my wife couldn’t get off work herself. I couldn’t afford the gas or the wear and tear on my car. Et cetera.

For some people, those are legitimate reasons. Everyone is in a different situation and has to made decisions based on that. But in my case, every single one of those reasons was simply an excuse, something I put in the way myself to avoid having to go to something I didn’t like. I hate funerals and don’t enjoy going to them (it is hard to do an event well that is entirely about death).  Then I repeated the excuses to myself, willing them to be true. But no matter how many times I did they weren’t true. Each of my excuses had a solution: I have paid vacation time, I could connect with family and drive with them, and so on.

We do this all the time, building up walls to avoid facing our problems. Just like the three little pigs, we hide from the big bad wolf. Every time something breaks down our wall, we build a stronger one. We hope that if we build the wall strong enough, the wolf give up and go away. Or even better, he will simply climb down the chimney into the pot for us.

Life isn’t like the fairy tales. Our problems will not go away simply because we wish them to. Nor will our problems wait around until we gather the courage to face them. Time waits for no one. Do not give in to the urge to make excuses. You only get one chance at life. Don’t waste it.

-That is all.

The Art of Getting Away

As you read this in front of your computer screen, as its dull brightness eats at your soul, I am in the beautiful wilderness of northern Michigan. Today is the last day of our annual family backpacking trip. This year we are taking a trip to Picture Rocks National Lakeshore, one of my favorite places in the world.

But the location really doesn’t matter that much. We could go camping in the woods out back from my parents’ house, and it would be equally valuable. The point of this trip is less about where we are going as it is about the simple act of getting away. Breaking the habits of normal makes a big difference.

The first big thing is to disconnect from the technology that constantly surrounds me. Television, internet, video games; I spent every waking hour with technology around me. This brings me a great deal of joy and happiness, but it can become draining in its monotony. A clean break can be quite refreshing.

A similar value is gain by simply going to a new place. All the locations we go backpacking are “once-a-year” places. I never get there except when backpacking. These new environments can rejuvenate.

Finally, these backpacking trips are with my brothers and my dad. While we get together regularly, it is almost always for some external event: weddings, births, funerals, etc. This trip is just us and only for us. That togetherness is wonderful.

Getting away is an essentially part of my personal well being. True vacations are infrequent in my life currently; work and family obligations keep me from getting too far away. Because of that, I greatly appreciate the ones I do get. Done well they will be enough.

-That is all.