Nature is filled with examples of things that require occasional episodes of destruction in order to promote growth. People take shears to plants many times a year to clear away struggling extremities and give their plants a fresh lease on life. Indigenous tribes burnt swathes of their land to encourage new plant life and coax the animals back along with it. Capitalist economies do an interesting impersonation of this process too: creative destruction. It's actually a pretty tidy parallel. After creative destruction occurs, things grow back but never quite the same way.
At this macro level, it is clear that many different facets of life benefit from such a cleansing. But as people we find it pretty hard to take the advice of biology and economics. So often in our lives, we take our things with us. But just like gardeners and indigenous tribes, sometimes we have to set things on fire in order to facilitate any new life that might want to sprout from underneath.
I urge everybody to think long and hard about all of the overheads in your life. These overheads could be something you own, an activity you spend time on or a regular expense that comes out of your pocket every month. Consider each thing carefully and deeply and try to establish whether there is anything that is there only as a remnant from a past incarnation of yourself. What value does each element bring to the person you want to be today and into the future? Your mind might be clearer without these things in your way. You might have more free time to do things you always thought you were too busy for. Stripping some things away clears your field of vision and takes weight off your shoulders that you may not have even realised was slowing you down.
Doing this is so hard because engaging in the self-talk that is required in these situations can be like questioning a compulsive liar who is trying to cover something up. We find it so hard to be honest with ourselves about our failures and misjudgements that we invent reasons to hang on to these things. Just as much as we have trouble coming to terms with our own past mistakes, much of this difficulty is the fear of things we cannot control about our future.
When you travel, how much luggage do you take with you? So much depends on the length of your trip and your destination, but how often have you returned from travelling with a few things sitting in the bottom of your pack that sat unused? How often did you wish you brought more luggage? Think about the effort you spent carrying those things through airports, onto trains and walking around the street, not to mention the brain power you have to expend keeping those things safe. Nothing satisfies me more than boarding a plane with just a carry-on bag and walking straight from a bus to a terminal and then onto a plane. It's lighter, it's faster and it's freer.
Think about your wardrobe or your freezer. The hard drive on your computer, your bookshelf or your rack of DVDs. Think about that appointment you keep every second Wednesday. What about that pile of vouchers you've got stacked next to the phone for restaurants and massages that you've got to use before they expire? The ones that will save you fifteen percent on something you weren't even that interested in in the first place? Are you still watching the movie channels you pay for? Or reading that magazine that comes in the mail each month? Reconsider the things that are pulling at you in some way. These are your overheads, and they might be holding you back from something great.