Less and More – My perspective on losing and gaining

I like reading a bit on different blogs and news sites and even Apple News. Mostly in the mornings, wherever I am, I have nothing really to do besides read or listen to music and conspire to write more. There are two perspectives which I’ve always thought a lot on and my progress or lack thereof I’ve tracked against some balance sheets. Here are the two perspectives. I’ll present them in reverse order than in the title.

Gaining. I would say for about 23 years I gained. I gained a house, a nice family, a wife, some social standing, two different careers. I also gained some moderate successes in the second career. I would do the difficult programs and many times heard,

give that to Mike, he can do the projects or programs which are not working

I managed to gain on a few of them. At one program in Cisco, several program managers had attempted to work with the business unit and failed. For whatever reason I showed up and the business IT Program Manager and I hit it off so we made it work and she trusted me. That was a gain!

At the last job, I only did three projects but each did not have enough time to get done, resource conflicts, different and untried vendors and sub-contractors, technologies never before used for the particular endeavors we needed them in, and company leadership up to the CIO and my VP just let me do the work and only responded to escalations. You know when the CIO is in your escalation chain with vendors and partners, it might be a gain. I mean, right?

I finished the last thing in February 2018 and retired a day after a last meeting and I was on the plane for Japan for some time. Mostly though I was moving from the gaining to the losing side of things which comes next.

Losing. Some would argue and I have read on Facebook that losing the material gains such as a house, being wealthy in real property, owning acreage, having relationships that line up, all are gains. For me, I wanted to lose so many of the things that hamstrung me. I wanted no house, no debt, no car, no recurring payments for electricity, internet, water, gas, trash. So I lost all those things. I also did not want property. I was not a minimalist which I consider to be a title people take on blogs and Twitter and Facebook to show they have a socially acceptable method for downsizing or losing. I prefer to call myself a realist. I had to lose things because they would not fit in the 45L backpack I would carry. Clothing like collared shirts, extra jeans, nice socks and underwear. Small furniture items like an end table, a bed, a nice coffee maker, small odds and ends had to be lost. They simply would not fit. So I lost.

But perhaps as the philosopher would say, by losing I gained. Each thing I lost was something I gained. Now my life abounds in loss yet I gained a relationship with L which I treasure. I had gained 23 years of a relationship which ultimately failed and then I lost on. The loss of property, debt, responsibilities, schedules, milestones, acceptance, plans has really been a gain hiding there in plain sight.

My life now is simpler and I have so few possessions to speak of that still fit in the 45L backpack which carries the sum total of a life spent gaining and then losing.

In all, the losing has been the most valuable. I imagine my mentor RWR telling me,

how would you know you gained something without losing

And I don’t know. I feel that the less I have the better. I had decided not the old maxim that “less is more”. Nor did I downsize or minimize really. I just applied some realism and I knew by losing more that ultimately I would gain something in Southeast Asia. Not permanence. And at first I did not want to find a relationship. I had gained so much and lost so much there that I felt liked damaged goods around others. Then I met this wonderful Vietnamese woman L. Then I met more wonderful friends in Cambodia and Vietnam. Gone with the faulty gain and loss measurements of the decades. I did not want all the permanence of homes and cars and debt and property. I wanted less and I got less. But less is not more folks. More is more. Less can be elegant and easy when you get older. I don’t need kazillions of dollars to live because I have less. Less has not been more for me. That saying does not mean anything at all to me. What does mean something is that less does not equate at a negative level to quality of life. You can have much less and live out of a 45L backpack in a airbnb wherever the hell you want to be. I also found after 10 years something that would for me with another person. Enter my L. She is so much more to me. There is less there too. No guilt, jealousy, hatred, envy, fear. There is her. Her meeting me at the airport and waiting for 2 hours for me to come back. Her never insisting on guilt but always giving me what I consider to be the best for less. The love and acceptance and dedication which now feels so good.

I could never go back to having more. I’ve had less and lost and it’s more fun.