My wife thinks I want to be a monk. Or at least that I aspire to a monastic lifestyle. It’s a reference to some of my more austere preferences in life.
As evidence, she would cite my obsession with paring down belongings in the name of minimalism (even if it means getting cold, wet and suffering whilst out in the hills) and undoubtedly mention that if I were stranded on a desert island and allowed only one foodstuff then my choice would be oats.
(The above photo is from my cycle home from Arctic Norway in which my stove stopped working meaning I had sandwiches for tea every night, my shoes got stolen meaning I had to cycle 700 miles in sandals and my sleeping bag was woefully inadequate meaning I shivered myself to sleep every night. In this particular shot I was drying out in a bus stop after two days of rain. The trip is one of my all time favourites).
There are many reasons that I draw pleasure from these preferences, some of which I have discussed elsewhere. One of them is the sense of satisfaction at having adhered to a strict regime. I test myself in some small way – running up the stairs when I could have taken the lift or bathing in cold water when the hot tap works just fine – rise to my tiny challenge and feel a sense of mastery afterwards, however slight.
It’s not the only reason I do those things. Taking the stairs gives me exercise which I value, cold water has it’s health benefits and both deliver endorphines. But the common thread through all of them is a miniature sense of achievement.
You may not breakfast on raw oats (or perhaps you do) but if you are reading my blog then I’m willing to bet that you have at least a passing interest in adventure, challenge or expeditions. And who would dispute that those who undertake such challenges do so, at least in part, to test themselves and feel the achievement of having met that challenge.
So, if you enjoy the challenge of an expedition then why not bring some small part of that to your daily routine? A little dose of self-enforced hardship never hurt anyone. And who knows, maybe you’ll even get a little monastic kick out of it.