It turns out I didn't pack quite casually enough for our vacation in Door County, Wisconsin, and I could have left half of what I brought at home. I know that is a typical travel error - overpacking - but there was something incredibly comforting about the realization that there is a place in the world I can visit for two solid weeks with nothing more than bike shorts, tank tops, hiking shorts, a bathing suit and a pair of jeans. Throw in some jandals and all-around outdoor shoes like the turquoise pair shown above and you're good to go. The itinerary on Wisconsin's peninusla is pretty simple and straightforward: ride bicycles on beautiful, peaceful roads as well as along trails through empty forests, kayak on Lake Michigan, hike through the Peninsula State Park, read, nap and - the most important piece of the puzzle - eat.
That list pretty much sums up what I was up to during my two week absence, and I came back having a particular kind of clarity I'm not sure I've had in a while. It isn't that I haven't had focus or priorities or a clear understanding of what drives me to create the life I'm creating, it is more that I returned home with a lot less noise in my brain. After thinking of myself as someone who longs for a simpler life, I now have a deeper understanding of what I need to do to open up more space for that, and recognize all the ways I have been adding and creating complications in my life unneccessarily. I don't think this means I am now embarking on a radically different path, but that my life will continue to look basically the same but feel remarkably different as I remove all the tiny threads of distraction that pull me this way and that.
So much is out of our hands in life. Well, pretty much everything is. It is all out of our control - the weather, the stock market, the behavoir of those we love, whether or not whatever we offer the world is accepted and celebrated - none of it can be reined in and molded to our specifications, needs and desires. With this understanding of the way the world works, the best we can do is pick and choose what we allow into our lives, knowing even that can be managed to a very limited extent. My goal now is not to try to force things in or out of my life to create more of this elusive "simplicity", but to approach any situation, dilemma, dream, plan or relationship from a gentler frame of mind. To honor that corner in my mind where the volume is all the way down, and all I can hear is the steadiness of my own breathing. I don't know how successful I'll be as time passes and the memory of the past two weeks grows fuzzier, but right now I feel clear-headed and light, and thankful for what will very likely be a tragically brief glimpse of unmitigated contentment.