“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
― John Muir
In striving to be a better Ben, this journey goes beyond weight loss and exercise. Our beings consist of more than our bodies. We have our minds and our spirits to contend with as well. And I have found that none of these exist exclusive of the other, but they all are codependent on each other. Each requires investment in the others to realize its true potential and neglect for one can cause decay in others.
I find peace in nature. The creation that surrounds us not only helps me to gain clarity, but speaks to me and reaffirms my faith. Life is full of noise and distractions. I live right outside of Boston, a major metropolitan area. I commute to work and I am sure many of you have heard about how cordial and kind Boston drivers are (for those who haven’t, I’m being VERY sarcastic). I work in a job that requires constant communication and interaction with demanding internal and external stakeholders. We often times are at odds and always have to reach consensus. I also have a toddler at home, am a millennial trying to figure out how to navigate student loans, and would eventually like to buy the house we want to raise our family in. So there is a lot of noise. With that noise comes neglect of self. I can narrow my vision to tasks and problems, getting hyper-focused on one thing at a time, and ignoring all else. This may be effective at ticking off tasks from a checklist, but it is horrible for recognizing everything else around me.
Noises distract us from our goals. They can fog our vision and push us to decisions we may not truly intend. One example of this is how I seek out comfort food when I am stressed. I am a stress eater. If I have a really bad day, I want cheap take-out, a beer, and to sit on the couch. If I am distracted from life being overwhelming I can make knee-jerk decisions that are based on emotion and not on my plan. I have purchased many things from amazon in times like these. “Screw it, I want this.” I can hear my internal monologue clear as day. Does this resonate with anybody? Am I the only one who finds my weakness come out when life is too noisy and distracting? It seems when the business and noise is too much, we seek the immediate gratification that certain things provide. Something to change the moment. These decisions do not look at the long run and often have no basis in logic, but here I am with a box of dumplings, a beer (or two), and a bruins game.
Getting outside and seeking refuge in nature is medicine to me. With every step I take into the woods or every wave I hear crash on the beach, a few of those noises and distractions leave and I can see and think clearer. It helps me to focus on the things that are most important to me. It helps me to care for my own mind and spirit so that I can best care for those I love. You cannot fill somebody else’s cup if yours is empty. When I spend time in nature, I can remember how beautiful and masterful the world is around me, gain more appreciation for how lucky I am, and reset my priorities with this readjusted perspective. For me, the key to getting better is to have this outlet. And even more importantly, I need to recognize the need to use that outlet.
Taking care of my mind and spirit is an investment into every facet of my life. I am definitely not an expert and I absolutely have no right to tell you all what to do, but we all need to think long in hard how we invest in our mind and spirit. What can you do to help clear the noise and find more clarity? Do we need to do it for ourselves? Do we need to do it for a partner, or a family? For our future?
I have realized that when I take the time to try and find more balance, when I actually try to give myself space, and when I try to allow myself to calm, Things get easier. I am a better partner, a better father, and a better person. I like to be somebody who others are drawn to and I want people to find comfort in me and my friendship. I cannot be that person when I don’t take care of myself. I can be that person when I do.