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Achieving Minimalism Through Exhaustion

It’s been about two months since I arrived back in the US from my New Zealand adventure.

In that time, I’ve started two new projects, increased the footprint of this site, visited almost 40 states, met several hundred new friends (in real life!), consumed several thousand gallons of energy drink (approximately), downsized my possessions a bit, started writing for a travel blog, and figured out the next steps in my personal and professional life.

And you know what? I’m frickin’ exhausted. At the moment I’m in Seattle, and after a few days I’ll head down to LA for a week or so before moving to Thailand, and all I can think about is how I want to sleep and consume nothing but vegetables and water for the next 80 years.

There’s a tinge to that exhaustion, though, that feels like victory. I recognize this feeling because I get it every time I push myself into overdrive and accomplish far more than would have been possible in normal gear.

Maybe it’s the Stoic in me that looks at it this way, but it’s by pushing the extremes that you really find out what your priorities are. When we’re just coasting through life it’s easy to fill up the extra space with extraneous stuff.

But when you only have 24 hours in your day and you know you’ll be driving 15 hours to get to your next location (and spending at least a few hours drinking with your host when you arrive), you can be damn sure that the unnecessary disappears and all that’s left is clean, crisp, concise matters of importance.

This is the essence of Minimalism as a philosophy. The unimportant is brushed away, and what you’re passionate takes center stage.

Update: January 26, 2017

I haven’t thought about this for a while, but it’s absolutely true: after a period of intense work and focus, it’s often a lot easier to see with refined clarity what’s important and what’s not. Travel has long been this for me, though I find the same is true after as push to finish writing a book or complete another large, exhausting project. You have to give yourself time to exhale afterward, but if you allow for that, there’s a lot of opportunity in the aftermath to sweep away the unnecessary to the dustbin and start fresh with the bones of just the good stuff.