Stripped Down

The ship’s carpenter on Shackleton’s lifeboat James Caird took only three simple hand tools with him on the passage from Antarctica to South Georgia Island, knowing that, if he needed to, he could build another boat with only those tools.

I believe the way toward mastery of any endeavor is to work toward simplicity; replace complex technology with knowledge. The more you know, the less you need.

– Yvon Chouinard

Simplicity entails looking at what you have and figuring out how to make it work in your current situation. It’s far too easy to continue to add to the collection than it is to pare our possessions down. The process of simplification often coincides with developing mastery of the tools we already possess. Decreasing options exposes the beauty of the familiar. This concept can be applied to almost any choice you are confronted with.

Nutrition. Variety is the bane of simplicity. Know a few foods very well. Inside and out. Keep things consistent. Your body thrives on expectation. Quality in, quality out.

Exercise. You improve with repetition. Do a few things well. Repeat them often. Endurance, strength, and power all require efficiency. Controlled movements yield the best results. If you can conquer the banality of the familiar you will grow exponentially. Remember: simple, never easy. The runner improves when he/she runs. Progress slowly and steadily, increasing your fitness during the process. Enjoyment increases alongside fitness.

Movement. Sport requires gear. Specialization promotes the purchasing of specific gear. The technical is an illusion. With skill and confidence come proficiency, which trumps even the best gear. Focus instead on output. Actually doing the activity. Reducing your gear shed to the minimal provides relief to the fatiguing element of choice.

Examples:

  • Running: shoes / hydration / clothing / nutrition / trail
  • Cycling: MTB / road / gravel / time trial / etc.
  • Fishing: spin / fly / baitcast / artificial / livebait
  • Hunting: archery / rifle / shotgun / etc.
  • Climbing: shoes / gear / boulder / trad / sport
  • Nutrition: vegan / vegetarian / carnivore / protein / fat / carbs / diet

Advertising. Remember, you are the world’s customer. Every which way you turn you are being persuaded to purchase something. With possession comes jealousy, judgment, and shame. Shame is the worst emotion we can display. What you have is enough.

Does your car start? Good. It is enough.

Do you have food to eat, clean water to drink, or the potential to purchase both? Good. You have enough.

Until you have exhausted the learning process and taken your competency to it’s highest level you need not worry about specificity.

The modern world is best inhabited by the Generalist. An individual who takes his skills as high as 80% of mastery-level and no higher. You see, to go any further requires a level of sacrifice that leads to an unhealthy imbalance. In the pursuit of mastery, an imbalance occurs, creating a potentially chaotic environment. Other aspects of life suffer. Your experience dims. Unless all areas of life (work, social, physical, spiritual) can be controlled, and de-prioritized as you see fit, the act of specialization becomes futile.

Once you become proficient, seek to maintain that skillset. Be happy with your progression. Stay content. For 99% of the human population, this is the way.

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