There are lessons that you learn because you want to and there are lessons that you learn because you need to. I’m currently dwelling in the tension of needing to but not fully wanting to…and it’s uncomfortable to say the least.
I’ve had some extra time to think this last week and that is due mostly to the fact that the engine in my car decided it no longer wanted to be a team player. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on the day) that meant that my temporary mode of transportation to and from work has been my God-given one….walking. I live about 2 miles away so it’s not a bad deal. These walks have almost felt cleansing to me,which may or may not be tied to the copious amounts of sweating I’ve been doing while on those walks in what can best be described as outer rims of hell hot. But cleansing none the less.
You see, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a mental fog, perhaps even a depression over the last little bit. And I just didn’t know how to get out of it. No amount of self-talk seemed to lift the weight of what I was feeling. There have been moments where happiness and contentment just seemed so far removed from the realm of possibility. And I wouldn’t dare say anything to anyone for fear that these thoughts and feelings could potentially have unvalidated any of what I have accomplished. But after a rather ugly semi-mental breakdown I knew I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
My mind and life for that matter felt cluttered. There was just too much stuff for me to wade through. The what-if’s, the could’ve beens, the maybe someday’s were stealing from me and taking up precious space that I so desperately needed hopes and dreams to occupy once again. I felt stuck…confused…trapped.
And then I found myself stuck…confused…trapped….quite literally as my good old faithful rav4 decided that it wanted to drop the “faithful” in the middle of a major intersection during morning rush hour. My car breaking down didn’t cause the depression but it sure didn’t help.
After some emotion-filled conversation with myself, a hand full of trusted others, and Him… I came to the conclusion that the only way to walk out from the beneath the weight of this looming darkness is to get rid of the junk, literally and metaphorically.
I live in a tiny home, not all my drawers are filled, there’s not stuff spilling out of every crevice but even at that, I have realized that I have held on to a ton of stuff that adds little to no value to my life. And if it doesn’t add value then really what’s the point? This is a lesson that I never really wanted to learn but navigating through this mental fog has proven to me that this is one that I very much so needed to learn.
Who would’ve known that a broke down car could lead to so much revelation???
This idea of evaluating value goes beyond just stuff. I’m applying it to almost every aspect of my life…places, things, even people. That may sound harsh but it’s where I’m at and it’s brought such freedom to me. I’m not sure how far this idea of minimalism will take me but as I strip away all that has become unnecessary there’s so much more room for life to flourish. I’ve long believed there are spiritual implications from some of the most practical actions that we take. Who would’ve known that walking to work would get me thinking so deeply? If I had, I would’ve ditched the car a long time ago.
Minimalism hasn’t been/ and won’t be a cure all for my mental health but this process has been liberating and I’m sure that it will continue to be. When life is stripped down and simplified you’re able to see the beauty in the small moments of wonder where you once missed them because the mindset of consumerism did just that, consume.
There’s a couple of guys that have been mentors to me in some regard in this process. They are writers/speakers/coffee enthusiasts who have been living this lifestyle of minimalism for some time and have gained some profound insight.
In their essay, “Life is an Acquired Taste” they make this parallel…
“Black coffee is a synecdoche for life: when you eliminate the excess—when you deliberately avoid life’s empty calories—what remains is exponentially more delicious, more enjoyable, more worthwhile. It might be a bitter shock at first; but, much like coffee, a meaningful life is an acquired taste. Sip slowly and enjoy.”
So here’s to sipping slowly, adding value, and hopefully finding shade while walking.
You can read the full essay here .
2 thoughts on “Mental Health, Minimalism, and Black Coffee.”
Wow Shannon, great post. I find myself in the same fog. As I lay here in bed sleep is far from me. Instead my mind is racing with all the what ifs and the negativity of life. I too found myself stripped of my car, clothing, book, all the things that made my life comfortable. I find my self digging deeper, with in myself and the Word of God trying to get in tune with His purpose for my life right now and the steps He desires me to walk in these moments. Thank you so much for sharing. Glad to know we are not alone!! Love you girl, it was awesome running into you today and now being blessed by your post!!
I find it amazing how so many of us can go through the same stuff in close proximity and yet, complete solitude. Steps toward minimalism, or “a willing pruning” as I like to think of them, have been the little prophetic acts that have propelled me forward on the freedom path.
Thanks for your vulnerability and for sharing your wisdom and process. And also, thanks for sharing a quote from some guys who can properly use the term synecdoche in the context of everyday language.
To sum up: you’re not alone (the enemy is after so many of us in a similar attack posture), you’re a lovely and powerful human (especially when you’re traversing two miles worth of SoFla hell-heat), and thank you for sharing.