What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

unsheds (with: Float’s front shoe)

on June 18, 2014

Despite my recent hiatus from posting daily to What I shed today, simplifying through shedding/lightening up has remained much in my mind. (Or lightening up through simplifying … there’s a chicken there and an egg, but I can’t say which is which.)

Without regretting that I’ve recommitted to my daily shed, taking a break from that relentless focus did help me notice something I’d like to name: the “unshed.” Like a shed, an unshed subtracts something from one’s life. And usually, as we’re collectively discovering, less is more, if less is one less piece of stuff. So I’ve started asking myself, when I lose something or something breaks, “Did I really need that? Was it significantly useful?” If my answer is “no,” probably I should embrace the shed and move on. But occasionally the loss of something doesn’t simplify; it complicates. The simplifying response is to replace it, as soon as possible. That’s an unshed. (I know this is probably obvious, but I’ve become so suspicious of the whole category of “possession”—who possesses what, really, or what possesses whom—that I have to think it all through again.)

Perhaps only an example will save us now. Last week on the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, Float and I were happily sailing along when we came upon a railroad crossing. Such aren’t rare in the eastern United States … I’ve ridden over hundreds, if not thousands … and though they warrant concern and care, generally if you cross them as close to a right angle as possible, they are No Big Deal. From this one, however, a huge splinter of railroad tie stuck up like a caltrop, and I smacked it square on. I fully expected the report of a tube puncture, and was gratified to roll on, apparently unscathed.

Not so. Within 200 yards, I started hearing/feeling a “thump, thump, thump …” Inspection revealed that Float’s front tire had developed a kink big enough to rub on his brake pads.


a knotty problem

a knotty problem

BRAG is a fully-supported ride, which means that SAG vehicles patrol the route. To my great good luck, I thought, one happened along just at the moment I realized I might need some help. (I carry a spare tube. Tire? … uh, no, not yet.) I patted the top of my helmet in the “I need a SAG” gesture, but the driver inexplicably passed by. Perhaps my friends waving their arms like monkeys introduced noise into the communication interface. In any case, it was about 10 miles to the next rest stop. I decided there was little to be lost by trying to make it.

Nothing was lost in the attempt. I got there on pedal power, and rolling tech support, in the form of mechanics from the completely awesome CycleWorks, Inc., arrived minutes after I did. The young mechanic who sold me a new tire had never encountered a failure like the one Float and I presented. “Have you ever seen anything like this?” he asked his co-worker. “I have,” he said, “but not that bad.” (It’s always nice to baffle a bike mechanic.)

So Float and I unshed a tire. My life would have been considerably complicated without replacing it. There’s “stuff,” and there’s what I know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. I’m sickened by the former. I’m empowered and enlivened by the latter. Clarifying which is which is … well … some kind of movement into the light.

shedding style: repair, replace

Comments welcome … what might you lose that you’d really need to get back to live the life you’d recognize as the life you want to live?


7 responses to “unsheds (with: Float’s front shoe)

  1. In my case broken or lost knitting needles/crochet hooks just have to be replaced… I’m not me if I can’t create! Fortunately, their demise is a rare occurrence.

  2. Julie Buhite says:

    “… what might you lose that you’d really need to get back to live the life you’d recognize as the life you want to live?” It would be my NIV Bible. I actually gave my “full-color” one (I highlight in crayon :) ) to my best friend when I left Bolivia half a year ago. When I went for the shameful take-back request this week, he responded (in Spanish), “I told you you needed it,” and so it will be sent to me next week with a friend who is travelling here. I shed my Bible to let go of what was most precious to me, and in this case went overboard in simplifying. I’ve paid the price. To answer your question more directly, it would be my baton, my bike, and my gym membership.

    • revdarkwater says:

      It will be interesting what pops out at you from your bible when you’re re-united!

      Re: your baton, bike, and gym, you have an active spirituality, don’t you? (smile) Contrary to the conceits of my youth, I find that the older I grow, the more physical activity I need to keep my mind working right. Gardening has become an act of prayer; cycling, of praise.

      • Julie Buhite says:

        Hee hee. Yeah, I actually have a flaming spirituality. I agree with needing more and more physical activity. The physical and the spiritual have become intimacy interwoven and interdependent in my life. It’s so exciting. “Gardening has become an act of prayer; cycling, of praise.” That gave me chill bumps. Thanks for the continual inspiration and sharing of your conscious and intentional living!

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