Photo courtesy of Pamela Logan

Interruptions – now there is a topic to ponder.  Most of us do not like interruptions.

I tend to feel most comfortable in the status quo – the routine – the predictable.

Interruptions to the anticipated flow of life upset and cause me to respond in some manner – road construction causes a detour along my normal route to work, a solicitor rings the doorbell during dinner, or the stock market dramatically drops a few percentage point after it had been steadily climbing for months.

Interruptions are part of life.  Things change.  Things break.  Plans don’t always work out as initially intended.

As our lives become more mechanized and complicated by machinery and telecommunications, the opportunity for failure or complications increases.  Sometimes interruptions cause conflict.

Minimalism allows one to better respond to the interruptions that are inevitable in life.  By living a simple, uncomplicated, and intentional life, there is less risk of something going wrong that will negatively impact our space.

Further, if one lives in the moment, one can respond calmly to the interruptions each moment may bring.  Interruptions are just another component of the flow of life.

Minimalism allows us to make space in our lives, thus when an interruption occurs, there is room to accommodate the changing situation – our plans are not significantly interrupted.

For example, I recently traveled across the country.  In Colorado, we had a very cold spell of weather, with ice and snow.  In the past, I would have rushed to the airport at the last minute, just making it to the gate in time for them to call my zone to board the plane.  If something had interrupted those plans, I would have never made it to the flight, and would have been quite upset.

This recent trip was different now that I approach life with the tools of minimalism.  I scheduled plenty of time to get to the airport (time space).  I checked in early.   I sat and waited at the gate and observed the other travelers.  After the flight attendant announced that we would be delayed in departing because the plane needed to be “de-iced” prior to take off, I was not phased.  Maybe I would miss my connecting flight, and many of the other passengers were definitely concerned about that interruption to their travel arrangements.

It didn’t bother me.  I had plenty of space in my travel plans.  Perhaps I risked waiting at the connecting airport for 3 or more hours; I chose not to let that upset me.

Our response to interruptions is tied to our concept of control.  If I try to control every situation and all the components of my “idealized” plan, then an interruption will be more traumatic than necessary.  The interruption opposes all the time and energy I spent in creating the perfect plan.  Interruptions remind me that there are forces in my world that are beyond my control!

However, if I relax and relinquish control, then an interruption to my plans or agenda are only temporarily inconvenient.  They do not disrupt my life.  I still remain in the moment – not trying to control an “ideal” future or outcome.

I can not control the weather.  I can not control the airlines or airport operations.  These things were out of my hands, and thus during this weather interruption to my travel plans, all I could do was to remain in the moment and focus on what I can control: my mind, my response, and my interactions with the people around me.  It was a very freeing experience.

In addition, interruptions some times bring opportunity.  An interruption may force us to observe things differently or solve a problem we did not anticipate.   An interruption is an opportunity for reflection, response, and growth.   On another trip, my friend had a delay in his connecting flight at the Denver airport.  I was traveling that same day through Denver as well.  If our flights were on schedule, we would have never crossed paths.  However, his flight was delayed several hours, and thus we were able to share lunch together and a pleasant hour of conversation.

By making space in your life, interruptions are not so disruptive, and could be advantageous.  

How about you?  Are there things in your life that you can relinquish control of that will allow you to have more space for the interruptions of life?

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About John Forrest