The Power of One

With the family away in Europe until I am done with my service as principal for the school year and I am able to join them,  I have been taken the time to engage in an experiment of one.

The power of one is my mini experiment in minimalism. By definition, minimalism is the reduction of only using what is absolutely necessary. Shedding the over consumption and use of multiple items which for a family of four, like mine, means multiple loads of dishes and laundry per week, I have limited myself to just focus on the aspect of food for this week and have given myself the ability to only use the following items to eat and drink with all week.

Here is what I allowed myself to use:

  • One bowl
  • One spoon
  • One fork
  • One knife
  • One pairing knife (for slicing fruit, vegetables as needed)
  • One coffee mug
  • One glass
  • One pan
  • One traveler coffee mug

The idea was simple. After each meal, wash the dishes used, let air dry and then re use again for the next meal. No need to load the dishwasher.

What did I learn? For starters, I certainly had to be more mindful at the end of each meal making sure that I either washed the dishes, or if I got lazy, and a couple of days I did, that I cleaned them before starting again. I didn’t allow myself the option of throwing the used items in the dishwasher and just grabbing another.

The older I get, the more I see a need for less. That I, we, often work to hard to buy things that we think we really need, but when the shine is gone, is simply another object. I also found there was immense power in only having one choice. Only one bowl, only one cup, etc. It limited distractions. Made deciding easier. When one is all you have, that’s what you choose.

This experiment reminds me of the idea of simply sometimes just getting out and running one mile. Maybe because of the time, events, or simply just how you feel, there is something about just getting out the door and running a mile. If you get to the end of the mile and you want to run more, great, keep moving forward. If not, then you can simply be done.

The power of one.

Wabi Sabi

Embracing imperfection. After a recent Did Noting Fatal (DNF) at a local 50k at mile marker 29.5 for what turned out to be heat exhaustion and dehydration requiring a trip to the local ER for some IV’s, I have taken a step back to look at my relationship with running.  Heading into the race, I had a really great training cycle for me with several 50 mile weeks in the midst of my own kids finishing up their travel soccer season’s and with graduating the seniors that I work and closing the doors on another year as a high school principal. Closing in on race day I was ready to rock until my body crumbled under a hot spell that covered the Metro Detroit area like a wet blanket come.

Wabi Sabi is a aesthetic Zen Buddhist philosophy that celebrating the flaws and imperfections and appreciating the beauty it all.  This idea is reflected in Kinsugi, which is a Japanese method for repairing broken things with a gold lacquer making them stronger and more beautiful than before.

Laying in the ER with the stench of 6 plus hours of running trails, a dark brown urine sample on the counter next to me, and an IV hooked up to my right arm with my wife shaking her head at me, I was broken. The searing heat that day had exposed my flaws and imperfections in my training. Most of my runs in order to fit them in are in the early morning under the cover of darkness. I didn’t think that I would be exposed to long to the heat to make a difference, I was wrong.

In the past, I would cast a spotlight on myself and throw a pity party that could go on for days. A foul mood was cheering from the sideline. Not this time.

Instead, I have been chewing on and kicking around this idea of Wabi Sabi and of rebuilding my running  in the Kintsugi manner. Forget the frown and take the view that there is good in this. That my imperfections and flaws are beautiful. There was a reason this happened and that a DNF maybe was really the outcome that was necessary.

Moving through our lives on a daily basis, how often do we connect and are present with our mind and body? Are able to be present, to be mindful, or do we need to have the walls come crashing down for us to listen?

Wabi Sabi is about embracing and owning those imperfections. That through Kintsugi, something that was broken and when put back together is more beautiful because of its differences than in it’s original form.