The Bear Will Keep Eating the Trash…

We go to this remote cabin in Colorado pretty much every year. It’s incredible. The beauty of the place is unreal. One of my favorite things is actually what it lacks: cell phone reception.

This means when we are away, we really are away. There’s a spot on the road where the bars of reception fade and then disappear. It’s glorious.

I had no idea how badly I needed that level of disconnection until it happened. There’s always a bit of a shock at first and it takes some getting used to for sure. But now that we’ve done this for 15 years, it has become one of my favorite (and most crucial) rhythms.

There’s a dumpster at the entrance that a lot of the cabins use to dispose of their trash. One summer, I remember watching an older gentleman drive over to the dumpster and pick up the scattered trash that had been torn into by the bears. This happened: every. single. day.

There’s another dumpster down the road that never has this problem. The difference is the contraption used to lock down the dumpster. The other one has a tighter fit. I was wondering to myself, “why don’t we just fix the locking contraption on this dumpster to match the other one so that the bears can’t keep getting into the trash?”

In 2019, I decided to take some drastic measures with my phone and life:

– removed work email

– turned off all notifications for apps and personal emails

– set “do not disturb” to automatically kick on every day from 5pm-7am.

Then 2020 everything in the world went wild and I found myself wading through a barrage of news, emails, podcasts, etc. It was time to add a few more limitations:

– bye bye social media

– start my day with sitting in complete silence, prayer and reading scripture

– get more sleep

– only check “news at 9am” then stop.

In 2021, took it to another level:

– no alcohol for an entire year

– meet with a counselor every other week

– be more honest and vulnerable with those closest to me

And what do you know… I didn’t miss a thing. In fact, for the first time I started making the important things mandatory which I had been treating as optional for too long. My soul started to heal. My brain got quiet. My heart came alive in ways that I had missed. I started to really “see” people around me.

Every moment of every day is a chance to quit cleaning up the trash from the bears and just change the system before it happens again. The bears will keep eating the trash… but the good news is that we can do something about it. If we are willing to put some limitations in place and change the ways we are doing some things then we can finally start enjoying the life we are actually living with the people that are actually around us.

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