Purge, Simplify & Persist: The High Value of Sacrifice

Purge, Simplify & Persist: The High Value of Sacrifice

Inside Info: As I’m recording today’s episode, it’s July 17, 2022 (Sunday), and day 5 of COVID. 

“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”  ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.”  ― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Sacrifice, in the context of what’s happening in my life at the moment, is simply surrendering a possession. Sacrifice isn’t throwing something away. Discarding is unburdening yourself from something. Willfully, maybe even joyfully, separating yourself from something. That’s not sacrificing. That’s easy. Sacrifice is hard.

The physical purge isn’t the bodily kind, but it is physical. Specifically for us (me and my wife), it’s about our house and our stuff. It’s about over 4 decades of accumulation, gathering, storing, and collecting.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” — Leonardo da Vinci.

“A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.”  — Eleanor Roosevelt

Yes, it feels pretty rational to me. But mostly, it feels glorious. Liberating. Easier.

The problem is the process is anything but liberating. Or easy. Or glorious. It’s hard, difficult, arduous, and drudgery! I hate it because it’s so hard.

Everything is hard until it’s easy. 

Do you know when it gets easy?

When you start.

“Don’t make the process harder than it is.“   — Jack Welch

Jack was a brilliant guy. I was a fan.

Early last week I contracted COVID. We’re weeks into purging our house to prepare for what might come next. I only mention that because it created only a slight adjustment in my schedule, likely providing me with new opportunities to come in contact with the virus. Rhonda and I have both managed to steer clear of it. Until now. She’s still negative, thankfully.

I bought a dolly from Sam’s Club. A dolly that likely had been handled by dozens of filthy hands before I laid my mitts on it. You can never really know, but it’s a decent working theory. Besides, it’s an opportunity to declare that I went to get a dolly and came home with a dolly…and COVID. And suddenly, my purging came to a halt. Kinda sorta.

COVID issues didn’t completely stomp things down for us because Rhonda continued to list things for sale, go through various areas of the house and I engaged in moments (and I do mean, moments) of lugging stuff from one spot to a different spot. I leaned into my loss of appetite to lean up physically. In the first 4 days, I figured I consumed about 1,000 calories. I found myself within 20 pounds of a goal weight I’ve had for the past decade. We’ll see if I can follow Jack’s advice and not make the process harder than it is.

Sacrifice. Throwing something away.

The difference isn’t the next destination of the thing, but in the value you place on the things you’re parting with. So it doesn’t matter if you’re selling them, donating them, or trashing them.

In 2018 Bruce Springsteen did an interview where he discussed his mental health challenges. Referring to a 1982 incident that happened while he was driving across the country, he stopped in Texas. Something happened. He’s not quite sure what. Or why. But he had a mental break. He said this about the experience, “All I know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier… much heavier. With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher.”

Physical stuff (baggage) and emotional stuff (or mental baggage) both weigh us down. And quite often, they’re connected. People ascribe emotions and feelings tethered to possessions. For me, the more I’ve sacrificed – surrendered – physically, the more liberating it’s been mentally and emotionally.

Easton Pays Me One Dollar

As I began purging weeks ago some things were easy to part with. I didn’t even think much about it. Or I instantly thought, “Yeah, let’s get rid of that.”

The deeper I dove into the process, the more I wanted to see how deep I might be able to dive. It’s not a freakish phenomenon really. You’ve likely experienced it in your own life. During my teen years, Dr. Pepper was my favorite beverage. I’ve never had a drink of alcohol. Never taken an illicit drug. Conviction and faith drove my choices, but at a practical level, I never wanted to surrender my mental faculties to anything. I need more brain cells than I have, so it never made sense to risk the ones I have. Well, for some reason I went without a Dr. Pepper for a week. A week turned into 2, then 4. At some point, it had been a year since I had consumed anything with carbonated water in it, including a Dr. Pepper. What had begun as a short-term exercise in deprivation grew into a contest to see how long I might be able to go. That same mental exercise kicked in for me during the purging as I wondered what every good limbo artist questions, “How low can you go?”

When I’m done I’ll honestly be able to have my possessions – all my possessions including my clothing – in one very small bedroom. Okay, that excluded my car. 😉

I’m envious of the duffle bag. The ability to have everything I own fit in a duffle bag. I could aim for that I suppose, but there’s no need really. After all, I admitted to you long ago that practical minimalism was the pursuit, the process. And I don’t want to make the process harder than it is.

Luke 12:15 “And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Randy Cantrell

Old Men, Old Love & Old Life

Old Men, Old Love & Old Life

I will never be an old man. To me, old age is always 15 years older than I am.     – Francis Bacon

It’s a common viewpoint. We’re surrounded by people younger and older. Never mind those younger folks. Concentrate on the older ones and you realize, “I’m not so old.” What you fail to understand is that you may be deluded. 😉

One of my favorite quotes about age is by E.W. (Edgar Watson) Howe, a journalist, writer, and novelist. In 1919 he published Ventures in Common Sense, so you know he was our kind of guy.

A young man is a theory, an old man is a fact.    – E. W. Howe

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Neil Young was in his mid-20s when he wrote and recorded the song, Old Man. Now, he’s 76 and officially old. He’s likely far older than the old man who was the caretaker on the ranch he bought back in the early 1970s. “24 and there’s so much more.” But you never know. Plenty of musicians – and others – have never made it to old age.

Another great song about old folks is by Five For Fighting.

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Father’s Day was a few weeks back. It was the 70th Father’s Day for my dad who will turn 99, Lord willing, in September.

Rapper Valee (no, I do not listen to rap, but I found this quote by him, which tickled me)…“I’m an old man. A big weekend for me is Home Depot and a Caesar salad.”

I looked it up and he’s only 33. I don’t know the context of the quote. I can’t imagine a hip-hop rap artist incorporating those sentences into a song though. But I’m old. What do I know?

We’re talking about old men ’cause I’m not an old woman. Have you seen this hubbub with Matt Walsh, who did a documentary, “What Is A Woman?” It’s a fascinating thing to behold and proves how far modern culture has descended into…well, I don’t even have a word for whatever it is, but it’s not good. It certainly isn’t wise or helpful.

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I know what a woman is, but I’m not one so I can’t claim a full understanding of that perspective. I have been married to a woman for going on 45 years. So I’ve got that going for me!

Jon Buscall is a friend from Sweden. He’s a photographer. And a worthwhile Twitter follow as evidenced by this tweet.

Jon Buscall Tweet

Randy Cantrell

Are You Prepared For Luck?

Are You Prepared For Luck?

I will prepare, and one day my time will come.     – Abraham Lincoln

Case in point Camille Vasquez, the breakout attorney who represented Johnny Depp in his defamation trial against Amber Heard. She’s 37 and according to the collective legal community, she was given some unprecedented opportunities during the trial to cross-exam witnesses and make closing arguments. Those responsibilities are typically given to partners. A week after the trial concluded, Vasquez became a partner. Some speculate it was to retain her because others were attempting to lure her to their firm. So it goes when you do well with a high visibility opportunity!

What we’ve not seen are the hours of pursuing the opportunities. Law school. Study groups. Bar exam. Research. More research. Grunt work. More grunt work. Wondering if your time will ever come. Doubt. Fear. More time spent wondering if this will ever be what you dreamed it would be. And then it happens. Maybe out of the blue. Maybe not. But your time comes.

Some aren’t prepared. Or they fail.

It happens.

We’re hardcore OU Sooner fans. The hazards of being born in Oklahoma. This isn’t football season, but weeks ago the Women’s College World Series (softball) happened. After OU won their way to the championship series, Oklahoma State University fans watched their team lose both semi-final games to Texas, thanks in part to a moment of errant defensive play that resulted in multiple runs by Texas. Even as an OU fan I couldn’t help but feel for the players involved in the OSU mishap. Their time had come and they couldn’t all handle it successfully.

We all know this firsthand. It’s been true in our own lives.

Was it Texas? Was it the bigness of the moment? Or was it life? Or something else?

Likely it was all of those things – and many more things. But I know what it wasn’t. It wasn’t the universe. It wasn’t fate. It wasn’t “meant to be.”

Being unprepared won’t work out well. But being prepared is no guarantee for success either.

Randy Cantrell

57 Things To Sell When You're Ready To Retire/Declutter/Simplify/Something Else

57 Things To Sell When You’re Ready To Retire/Declutter/Simplify/Something Else

Today’s show was sparked by a headline. No, it wasn’t 57 things, but it was 25…or some weird number of things you should think about selling if you’re preparing to retire. I found the list a bit odd and decided to hash it out with you. No, you don’t have to be preparing to retire. Maybe you just want to shake things up, improve things, declutter or simplify your life – or something else. There are bound to be lessons here to fit whatever situation you’re in.

Randy Cantrell

Capitalism, Not Consumption

I’ve got more episodes “in the can” than ever before. It’s unprecedented for me here at LTW. Today’s show was recorded in the wee hours of the morning. Today. So I decided to hit the publish button. It seemed fitting for a week before our nation celebrates independence and freedom – two things I’m thankful for. Thanks for clicking that play button.

Capitalism – an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state

Practitioners and supporters of capitalism are capitalists. I’ve long declared myself a capitalist. Supporting industry controlled by private owners rather than the government is the foundation of why I’m a capitalist. Capitalism is also based on fair (high integrity) competition and merit. High integrity is often absent, but it’s also absent in socialism, communism, and all other isms – many based on philosophies opposed to competition and merit.

Don’t confuse capitalism with consumption or consumerism. They’re somewhat tied together, but it’s a chicken versus egg thing. If I open up a business on Main Street selling custom-made T-shirts, the buying public – the market – will determine whether I make it or not. Sure, I’m in control of many variables, including my costs, my marketing, my location, my pricing, and more. But if I fail to get any customers, I’ll fail. The market will make a loser out of my custom-made T-shirt business.

Entrepreneurs find needs and fill them. Or try to.

Sometimes entrepreneurs see a need that really isn’t a need. The market says so by refusing to buy their solution.

Sometimes entrepreneurs see a need that really is a need, but their execution or timing is poor. They fail.

Sometimes entrepreneurs see a need, fill that need effectively and people buy. Perhaps in droves.

Should The Individual Have The Power To Choose?

Yes. Those who lean toward the left of the political spectrum seemingly place a high value on governance and legislation. That is, state imposition to encourage people to do what they feel is best. Those who lean toward the right of the spectrum seemingly place a higher value on the options and choices of the individual. Much of the debate focuses on whether or not the individual has the capacity or self-discipline to do what should be done – or what some think would be best.

The simple version of the quandary is that if the power and freedom reside with the individual, then each individual has the ability to get it wrong. Or right. The point is whether or not their choice is legislated, but whether or not their choice will fit within the context of the greater good of society. So a person who decides that a life of theft will be their choice now faces societal consequences imposed by the government, whose task is to punish “evil-doers.”  1 Peter 2:14 “or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.” It’s the very reason God ordained earthly governments.

Humans have the capacity to love. Having that choice necessarily means we have other choices. We don’t have to love something. Or somebody. We can choose alternatives between love and hate. And within the scale of love or hate – or anything in between – we can choose degrees. The extremes can be chosen or something more moderate. It’s up to us. Each of us.

So It Goes With Our Money Decisions

Individual choice is optimal. It’s also how God created us – with free will.

free will, in philosophy and science, the supposed power or capacity of humans to make decisions or perform actions independently of any prior event or state of the universe

Simply put, free will is our ability to make up our own minds. For this conversation, that means how we spend our money.

Many choices impact others. Maybe every choice we make impacts somebody else. I’m not smart enough to figure that out, but it’s clear that if we’re financially irresponsible then we’re a burden on somebody else. Maybe on the entire society. So we’ve got a responsibility to ourselves and to others to be wise with our money. That doesn’t mean we handle our money to please all those around us, but it does mean we understand that spending more than we earn will negatively impact us. And others. That family that declares personal bankruptcy because their credit card debt became so enormous they couldn’t even make the minimum payments each month don’t likely consider that those losses suffered by all those businesses who won’t be paid have to be offset somehow.

Profit or loss?

Break-even?

Ideally, we all want to profit. We want to profit financially, physically (health), emotionally, spiritually – in every way.

Let’s roll this stuff over in our minds.

Randy Cantrell

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