My last post was about my addiction to the feeling new things bring. Thanks for the comments and responses. It’s nice to know it’s not just me, I’m not the only one.
I was scrolling through my twitter feed today and someone tweeted something to the effect of, “Stop discarding and start living.”
That’s the challenge isn’t it?
Discarding, downsizing and organizing can become addictive as much as buying new things. It’s easy to get caught up in the eddy of the process and never really start living.
The challenge is to find the same enjoyment in living that we’ve found in getting new things or throwing old things out.
As I mentioned before, I see a lot of people come to minimalism after a crisis, as a way to sort through their lives and find peace and meaning. Minimalism isn’t the peace and meaning but a process to filter out the things that are blocking, interrupting, taking up too much of our time and space so that we can enjoy our lives.
The challenge is to move from the process to the living.
It’s not as easy as you would think, especially if you’ve lived life with pain and hurt. Maybe you didn’t turn to drugs or alcohol or sex or other popular addictions to numb the pain, maybe you collected, purged, hoarded, lived austerely. Anything that kept your attention away from hurt.
However, if you’ve come this far and rid yourself of the distraction and you’re left with yourself, the temptation is to go back, stay in the eddy of process where you were safe and it felt good.
The unfiltered, undistracted life is a little raw and real.
All the stuff and activity kept us cushioned and padded from the hurt.
To live without the padding takes time. Like when air hits a scrape, it stings, we recoil but the more you expose it to the air the less it hurts in time.
It takes time to learn to enjoy life’s flavor without all the condiments. The footage without all the CG. The photos without the filters.
Life with #nofilterneeded is a wonderful goal, can we get there? Is it possible?
I’ve mentioned Virtual Photo Walks before and I’ll probably keep mentioning it because I think it is SO great!
When I was in my 30’s my older sister was diagnosed with a terminal heart condition and given a few months to live. Being a stubborn, disciplined person, she did everything the doctor told her to do and she lived 6 years longer than they expected. I was one of her main caregivers. Having 2 small kids and caring for her was quite a challenge. My kids spent much of those 6 years in waiting rooms, hanging out with my sister as she gradually became housebound. We watched a lot of TV. We watched all of the O.J. Simpson trial. All of it. (Can you detect my sigh and eye rolling?)
Fast forward to 2015. My best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Like my sister, I walked by her side until she passed. Again, I spent many hours and days in waiting rooms and hanging out at her house watching TV and dreaming of trips we could take if we could.
I don’t know how I forgot about Virtual Photo Walks, but I did. Too many things on my mind, I think.
I remember when I initially found it I thought, “This is the greatest idea ever!” And when I ever have time I’m going to volunteer to be a photographer for them.
Since I’ve “retired” I have started volunteering with them and I want to spread the word, that’s why I’m writing another post about it.
What Is Virtual Photo Walks?
VPW is a non-profit organization run by volunteers who are passionate about giving those isolated by illness, age or disability the chance to “escape” their isolation and travel the world!
John Butterill, the founder, organizes the walks through a video conferencing app called Zoom. Photographers from all over the world work with John and plan walks and visits to sites from archaeological digs in Russia to volcanoes in Hawaii to sites in Japan. John sets up the video conferencing meeting and connects the participants who may be in their homes or rehabs, day care centers, nursing homes or are in the hospital and they connect with their computers to participate in the walk.
“The Secret Sauce”
The magic of Virtual Photo Walks is the live, real time interaction the participants can have with the photographer and also the others who are on the walk with them.
The participants can talk to the photographer, ask questions and make requests like, “Can we see what’s to your right?” or “Can you take a photo of that tree?” Everyone laughs together and are amazed together in real time. It is a completely different experience than watching a video.
I joined a walk to Yosemite a couple of weeks ago from my office. It was so moving to be with the other participants as we saw the mountains and a beautiful waterfall together. On another walk to an archaeological dig in Russia we had participants from Israel and Japan. It was so interesting.
What VPW Can Do
I remember spending endless hours, days, months and years indoors with my sister and later, my best friend. Too weak to go out and sometimes even to leave the bed. Both of them had to restrict their exposure to germs so even though they might have felt okay, it was too dangerous for them to go out. It was isolating! They were lonely!
Virtual Photo Walks can give people who are isolated a chance to travel to another place and do it with a community of people! Nobody cares what you look like – you can cut the camera off to yourself so no one sees you if you’re worried. Everyone is just glad you joined. And away you go to some beautiful or interesting place together to get away from your bed or hospital room for an hour.
It really does carry you away for a while. It’s magical.
Here is a great video about VPW. Please share with people you know. Share on social media!
As I said, VPW is a non-profit organization. It’s free to join. The participant just needs internet access to their computer.
You are required to make a request to join because John makes sure all the participants are safe and he protects their privacy.
If you or someone you know would like to participate in a walk, you can join here:
March 7, 1970. It was a Saturday and I was 8 years old. I was playing in the front yard when my Dad came outside with a piece of paper with a hole in it.
It was weird because my Dad never came outside to do stuff with me.
He told me that we were going to watch the solar eclipse.
I knew what that was because my teacher had told us about it at school. I didn’t remember much she said except, “Don’t look at it or you’ll go blind!”
So, my Dad had figured out how to watch it without going blind. He poked a hole in a piece of paper and held it so that the sun shone through the hole onto the sidewalk.
So, my Dad and I stood on the sidewalk staring at a bright circle on the sidewalk until we began to see the black circle overtake the brightness. I was awestruck! I was watching – on my sidewalk – something that was happening in the heavens.
When the black had almost completely covered the sun I looked up. It wasn’t complete darkness, but the light was a weird color and my eyes felt like they didn’t know how to focus. Everything got quiet. I noticed that no birds were chirping, no dogs barking, nothing. It felt weird. The world had gotten strange and unfamiliar.It was exciting!
I looked back at the circle on the sidewalk and watched as the world slowly became normal again.
My Dad and I exchanged a few words like, “Well, that was something.” And he went back inside.
That eclipse in 1970 was a major deal for me. For one, it was so important that my Dad made sure that I experienced it – and I experienced it with him. An occurrence as rare as an eclipse. And two, I had the experience of the world getting weird – if the sun could go dark than ANYTHING can happen. How exciting!
Since then I’m a sucker for any astronomical event. Falling stars, comets, lunar eclipse, blood moons, anything. I’m up for it! Yes, I would have been trailing along after the Wise Men following that crazy star.
So, tonight, 47 years later, I’m standing in my bare feet in the middle of my street, freezing to death looking at the outer edges of the moon with binoculars for any trace of shadowing. I’m also scanning the sky looking for a green comet that’s supposed to be visible with binoculars. I see nothing. I go back in shivering. But not disappointed.
Because I know, up in the heavens, something amazing is happening. Even though I may not be able to see it, I know that the giants in the sky are moving, choreographed by God. And in any given moment, alignments can happen, paths can cross and something amazing, a once in a lifetime event can happen.
On any average Saturday, the unexpected can happen. The day can suddenly become a once in a lifetime event and from then on out your whole world can be different.
My (almost) 8 month old and my (just turned) 6 month old grandsons LOVE the “itsy bitsy spider” song. When we FaceTime and I start to sing it they immediately perk up and pay attention. When I get to the part where “out came the sun and dried up all the rain” they will smile and laugh. Every. Time.
Even at their young ages, they’re happy when the spider makes it though his trial and the sun comes out and he tries again. The ups and downs of life, huh?
Hope the sun has come out again for you today and you find the strength to keep on going!