Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Elimination Diet

I'm a frustrated idealist who grapples too much and too often with the injustice of impermanence. My struggle to let go and adapt is a through line in everything I write, speak, and experience because I'm constantly contending with the suspension of transitions.

My adult life has consisted of frequent interruptions and subsequent migrations from one temporary situation to the next. Be it career, home, relationship, or pursuit. Some would call this freedom. And it is! I've lived an independent life of my own making, incongruent with standard norms and timelines, guided by a palpable restlessness.

Trail and error is the blue print for how I operate. In exchange for this fledgling freedom, I struggle immensely with finding peace. Contentment. Being sure.

I've begun to conceive of all the trying changes and losses we experience as small deaths. Dreams deferred, broken hearts, rejection, falling outs with friends and family, divorce, health crises, moving, changed minds, be it ours or others'. We spend our human experience traversing through unexpected tangents, trauma, and rebirth. It's just that some of us have a more precipitous turnover rate...

We die a little every time we lose a job, a partner, a home: really any external thing that forged an aspect of our self identity. The impact these small deaths have on our concept of who we are cannot be overstated, especially as they begin to stack up. 

I've realized that I have an Elimination Diet approach to life. Cyclically, as I begin to feel burdened or unwell, trivialized or dispensable, I reduce my daily life to the absolute bare essentials. Then I slowly begin to add in possibilities, trying them on for size and analyzing their direct effect on my well being.

Figuring out what you don't want is one of the most powerful tools in determining what you do. The only way to achieve this is to actually give each option a chance. Consume it. Ruminate and digest. Have a little patience, yet stay deft and alert to the feelings it causes. Be resilient and willing to remove anything that doesn't sit right, even if it looks good.

Uncovering what doesn't work is a slow and steady process of streamlining the path towards what does. We can discover the individual alchemy of what is healthy and sweet for our soul through the practice of addition and elimination. The issue is, it takes time. We are also bound to face some back to back "failures" and rejections as we search for our place in space.

"Every time I thought I was ready
I had to find out/
That God was on the sideline
yelling Time Out." -6lack

Here's the deal: Feeling badly is a waste of time. Life will provide plenty of uncontrollable moments of suffering and loss. We can't allow ourselves to chose feeling bad when alternate options are accessible. Staying too long in any scenario that endangers our self esteem or joy is poisonous. There is a difference between things not being a good fit, and things not being bearable. Once this line is crossed, you need to get the hell out.

Commit to your authentic pursuit, no matter how many false starts you encounter. Don't allow the accumulation of wrong-fit's and redirections divert you from a benevolent and committed exploration of yourself. Trust in the guidance of experience, in the mindful practice of addition and elimination. Breathe. Have faith that the best is yet to come.

With each loss, we have an opportunity to rise to the occasion. Don't settle for feeling shitty or believing that the last path (job, relationship) was the only one for you. There are small deaths, and there are grand ones: like giving up completely on unabashed joy and belonging. You are more than your circumstances. Each time you reset and restart, you get closer to a "Hell Yes" life.

*Photos from a heavily clouded, sometimes snowing hike to Mt. Townsend. One day I will hit this trail at just the right time and weather conditions to experience the epic views I have only seen in photos*

Tomorrow is my last day at my job. Yes! Wish me luck as a I eliminate and add in the next 'right for right now' thing. The silver lining of frequent disruptions and changes is that you end up with small windows of time to do things like hop a plane to the Southwest.


  1. Insightful, thought-provoking, and motivating as always. This statement really resonated with me: "We die a little every time we lose a job, a partner, a home: really any external thing that forged an aspect of our self identity."

    It captures the link between our internalized self and external world so well. In the loss of a job, home, etc. we lose a space that actualized/made tangible a part of ourselves. In the loss of a loved one, there is death to part of our sense of self that was only ever seen or understood by that person. Then there are pieces that we carry with us - for me, these have definitely served as a compass/light-source in navigating the journey forward that you describe.

    Also, cannot emphasize how much I love this quote: "We can discover the individual alchemy of what is healthy and sweet for our soul through the practice of addition and elimination."

    CONGRATS on eliminating/adding new adventures!

  2. Where oh where would I be without "restlessness" in the driver's seat of my "journey." Some of the "detours" I didn't enjoy at the time, but now see that they were necessary experiences that now resonate as purposeful. The path of least resistance is fraught with boredom. You are not boring! A successful life leaves scars...on the inside and out.
    A plane jumped to the southwest sounds like a perfect way to exercise your restless nature before climbing back on Life's Merry-Go-Round. :)
    Cheers for this insightful post,

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