Like loneliness, loyalty, happiness, love, joy, sadness, and heartache, etc. freedom is a quality that is uniquely human. It’s a function and desire conceived and propagated deep in the soul. For me, that pining for freedom has surfaced in a very real way. In Fringe Living I outlined my intent for paddling 1400 miles to the ocean. As I’ve been meditating on those reasons, I have found that each of those goals spoke to one meta-goal: freedom.
Freedom from Screens
At any given point in the day how far away from you is your phone? When you sleep, while you’re working, as you drive, during a workout, on a date, or at a coffee shop. I bet you’re like me and that 8 sq. in. screened device is never more than 5 ft away from you as it binds you to your 8-32 gigabytes of Almighty Google god, other people, apps upon apps, email, pictures, and music.
My favorite pastime is talking to people, meeting new stories, exploring others’ feelings, and relationship building. The phone, social media, and the Internet can do this, but also restricts many more opportunities that could otherwise lend us to connective experiences.
While preparing my phone for this trip I have eliminated the following apps:
- My guitar tuner,
- My banking app,
- my heart rate app,
- SleepBot and Sleep Better (my sleep tracking apps).
The only app that I have kept is Instagram, which will be used sparingly and only to update you and my mom on my whereabouts. The reason I chose Instagram over Facebook or Twitter: I can post a picture and a short reflection/update/mini-blog that isn’t restricted to 140 characters; and from Instagram I can upload the same link to Facebook and Twitter. Using Instagram keeps me from texting or emailing updates to family. It’s the most convenient one-stop shop. Plus, it’s my only compromise in using my phone to maintain my mother’s sanity. You’re welcome, Mom.
A shout out is necessary. Katie Warner, my most loyal blog fan girl, encouraged me to not update Instagram daily, which was my original plan. Katie eloquently danced me into a corner of limiting my Instagramming updates with, “It’s a practice of what you preach mentally. Preaching minimalism yet spending time (no matter how short) on Instagram every day does not correlate.” Well said, and I’m sure that I will thank you. Really, I’m already thanking you. But I’m sure my thanks will be a hundred-fold post-trip.
Bottom line: I am using two apps. I will use the camera function on my phone daily; Instagram will be used (roughly) weekly; and my phone will be used only in dire situations. All of the other undeletable apps are in one folder, titled “Open these = quit”. All of my Notes have been deleted. All of my Music has been deleted (except the U2’s album that Apple made impossible to delete from their phones).
I have cut out several things from my original minimal packing list. I’m still not bringing:
- A second pair of clothes
- All apps, notes, pictures, and music
I have since updated and eliminated:
- Sleeping bag
- A cup
- Down jacket
- ALCOHOL: thank you for the votes. I didn’t want to not bring alcohol, but I knew that I should. I’m glad you voted me out of it.
I decided that I am bringing:
- One roll of toilet paper
- More water
And my can opener is ultra-light, like, less than a gram.
Freedom to Be
My ultimate intent is to begin a proficiency in meditating. Maybe not the sit-and-chant-“Om”-for-hours version of meditation, but more like a mindfulness meditation: focused breathing, discipline and self-control, appreciation for simplicity and surroundings, lavish gratification, and prayerfulness. From Mindfulness Meditation a thorough self-inventory, existential reevaluation, and universal awareness will surely result.
I remember, and maybe you do too, my parents always telling me, “You can do anything and be anybody you want.” I’m taking their inspiration seriously. At some point in high school or college many people forget the powerful words their parents told them. We get tossed into the mix of deadlines, expectations, debt, and the general throes of life. These complications distract us from the internal dialogue that truly grinds at us: the desire to simply be. The standard lifestyles that we are submerged in mask the human emotions that we feel in our gut. We have no real way of addressing those feelings because we can’t identify them; the mask of societal expectations/norms obscures our vision of who we are and make for an elaborate labyrinth keeping us from our passions.
I want to strip away the requirements of the world to tune into the raw soul.
Jeff Rasley, a professor from college, and I will leave August 5th from Broad Ripple, IN. We will cruise the river until August 8th where we will meet with Joe, a friend from high school. We will continue down the White River to the Wabash River to the Ohio River, where Jeff will return home. Joe and I will continue down the Mississippi River with hopes to reach New Orleans in 40 days. You’ll hear from me next in 1400 miles after I make it to New Orleans. Unless you catch me on RTV 6 in the evening news. I will check my email one last time at the end of my first day of paddling. Send me any prayer requests, intentions, thoughts, hopes, meditations, ideas, and anything else that you think I could occupy my mind and heart with as I set sail: firstname.lastname@example.org On Thursday, August 6th, my email will auto-respond.
Follow me if you’re inclined, but feel free to excuse the screens for yourself as well.