Start Over From Zero, Simplify Your Life
Being a doctor goes hand-in-hand with being a consumer and the career path alone makes for one hell of a complicated life. Our mistakes can end a life, our actions have consequences including lawsuits. We tend to be a responsible group, with many individuals depending on us including coworkers and family. Everything surrounding medicine is complex, intricate, structured and fragile.
It’s never too late to start over again from zero, it’s never too late to raise the complicated structures you have built up in your life. Simplicity allows you to think less, worry less, give up control and have a more muted thought frequency.
But in order to have it you must replace that free space in your head with something. If you don’t then negativity and worry, pessimism and fear always, always are the first things to creep in. In response you’ll immediately start rebuilding complicated structures – so complicated that they are hard for your mind to keep track of, giving you a false sense of security.
It’s Hard To Even Imagine A Simple Life
It’s so hard for many of us, including myself, to imagine a simple lifestyle. One that involves perhaps a single to-do list for the whole day. Filled with days where the majority of the time I have no pressing matters to attend to. What would I do with 14 hours of my day if I didn’t have a task to complete? I suppose I could make everything drag out longer.
But to understand simplicity all I have to do is look over to the older gentleman sitting next to me on that brown cafe leather chair. I’ve seen him here most mornings, a man in his 80’s, and from eavesdropping, he is a former surgeon.
He leisurely walks in, his head is clear of thought/worry, it’s obvious to anyone standing beside him. He has the imposing presence of a surgeon but the weathered face of a grandpa. Tall, in good shape and usually wearing subtle exercise attire.
I think age extinguishes those busy thoughts of ours. Every once in a while I encounter those busy-minded, worried and stressed octogenarians in my clinic. But somehow with time they have realized that simple is better, complexity takes too much effort.
Holding On To The Past
We went through some shit, didn’t we? In order to get to where we are. I don’t care how easy you think it was, or how many connections you had to get into your program or how good of a test-taker you were.
Few of us sailed through smoothly. Some of us had/have DUI’s, health issues, lawsuits, divorces, and work drama. We have lost our jobs, gotten fired, had to answer to our specialty medical board. We’ve had heartbreaks and made deadly mistakes taking care of patients.
We can’t ever move on if we keep standing over the graves of our follies, licking the wounds that will never heal. We hold on to the false belief that we can’t move on or be who we want because we are scarred from head to toe.
Starting Over From Zero
I don’t care what your situation is and where you live, what fucked up drama you have been building your life on. Starting from zero is the greatest, most precious thing you can do in life. You can forgive yourself and everyone around you, stop the blaming and start living the exact life that you want.
You can’t do it successfully without following your heart. You can’t start from zero if you don’t know what zero is. There is a part in every single one of us that knows what our heart wants, it’s those moments when our insides and outsides trip onto the same wavelength.
You know how else you struck your heart’s note? It’s when your mind starts doubting it right away. That negative, critical part of you that chimes in right away, flashing multiple thoughts in your head as to why this new zero-level is idiotic, dangerous, worthless and too much work.
The Essence Is At Level Zero
What’s the big deal with going back to zero? Why not try to do more good being right where you are? The world, after all, has been revolving with all of us living the lives we are living. Making a few better decisions could settle the dust swirling around in your life.
But I ask myself, why build on top of the shit that I’ve accumulated, I would have to drag all that baggage with me no matter where I want to end up. Why wait for the baggage to eventually fall off, who says that those identities I have formed will dissolve or those negative thoughts will disintegrate?
To start from zero there is only one obstacle to overcome, myself. It’s not like I have to build this whole new complicated system to make it work. I simply knock away all the columns which I’ve built up, holding up a dream or fantasy; even worse, holding up someone else’s fantasy of me.
Next, after successfully overcoming my mind’s doubts, I have to overcome the many friends and family who will be hurt or disappointed by my actions. When it comes to obstacles, these individuals are often as uncompromising as our own doubting thoughts.
There is no need to create more drama, however, no need to develop yet another nemesis. Some will understand what we’re doing, others will question us, while the majority will eventually accept us – perhaps right around the time we finally accept ourselves.
Playing The Part Is Only Half Of It
I wrote this post because I’ve realized that I’ve been playing the part of a minimalist, a vegan, humanitarian and contrarian long enough. My intentions for doing so were good, with a light sprinkling of selfishness.
Starting over from zero has been a blessing in my life, many, many times. It might seem odd but I’ve always had the tradition of heralding my restarts by making one major move; it might be getting rid of 90% of my belongings, moving to a new city, quitting a job, ending a relationship etc.
I will say that I have made many changes for the better since I’ve been conscious enough to take responsibility for my own life. However, I haven’t achieved that humility status that I’ve desired. I’m still a few blocks away from being humble and I am still hanging on to complicated concepts, judgements and expectations.
What I’m realizing is that it’s really important to play the part, live the life of a person that you would like to be, but realize that eventually you will have to take that giant leap. It’s a leap from playing the part to completely erasing all the barriers you have created between being that actual vision of yourself.
What About Personal Finance?
I thought I’d smear a bit of personal finance into this post so as to maintain some relevance. I am happy that I’ve simplified my financial life. Everyone has their own barriers to overcome. Mine happened to revolve around identifying with being a physician and money.
By understanding personal finance I got rid of my fear of money and fear of not having any. Personal finance isn’t about investing on Wall Street or saving a lot of money in a bank account.
PF is about understanding the role of money within our day-to-day living. If you or I build a structure where money is the backbone then we will always oscillate emotionally, depending on which direction ‘the market’ goes.
If instead I have a life that is increasingly independent of money then I will have detached myself from one of the most powerful forces in this universe. Ironically, money is such a simple concept that only gains momentum when we assign it more and more value. Money isn’t bad or evil but it has a very subtle crossover point.
When you get on the path to developing financial independence, financial freedom, monetary independence, early retirement or whatever you want to call it, you will feel and be labeled as someone who thinks about money way too much. It’s akin to saying that a medical student thinks too much about pathophysiology. I assure you, the end-result is very pleasant, so I still encourage you towards the path of financial freedom.
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Henry David Thoreau – in Walden.
Simplify, simplify, simplify.