I enjoy a life of simplicity and authenticity while also being close to nature. My interests span the philosophy of existentialism and stoicism to pursuits of physical and mental endurance. I tend to detach from the superficial imposed by advertising and tradition in favour of discovering personal authenticity.
I believe one of the key drivers of authenticity is the practice of simplicity and minimalism. It is only when we remove the unessential can we see the essential.
The path to minimalism has been a long journey for me, but I knew it was the right path when I walked the Camino de Santiagio in 2013. The Camino de Santiagio is an 800 km medieval route through Northern Spain. What was notable about this journey was the simplicity of carrying everything that you need on your back. The pure simplicity of just carrying the essentials felt very liberating. The pull of consumerism to buy stuff was rebuffed by the realisation that it would have to be carried for weeks and hundreds of kilometers. This is a great metaphor for consumerism. Everything that we buy is, to a certain extent, a burden. We may not have to carry it physically, but we are carrying it mentally, by trading our free time to acquire it, then using our resources to take care of it; make space to store it; then having to protect and insure it; frquently clean it; while worrying about losing it and then ultimately having to replace it when we grow tired of it.
On that walk, there was a real collective joy of simplicity that was shared by other pilgrims. Walking provides the space and time to savour the sights and sounds of nature and people. It was a far cry from spending days sitting at a desk, staring into lines of computer code, solving abstract problems, as a Software Engineer.
A minimalist lifestyle complements my favourite activities, which naturally take place in the great outdoors, such as mountain running; long-distance hiking and; and rock climbing.
My adventures might be considered rare by some when mention is made of walking long-distance routes under blazing sun and alpine snow; wild camping in deserts, caves, forests; mountains, and olive groves. Those adventures might even be considered extreme, when relating stories of having slept under the stars while listening to wild boars prowling outside a simple bivouac; listening to gunshots ringing over my head; walking for days under the scorching sun without water or food, or having been bitten by snakes.
Long-distance endurance events have changed my perception of the world, perception of things, and perception of living. I have come to realize that too many people are working too hard, to buy stuff that they don’t need, to impress people they don’t particularly like and looking outside themselves for happiness.
There is something about the repetitive movement of each foot which is in a way mesmerizing and deeply tranquil. My journey on these long treks have been both alone and with others.
Long distance walking is not about getting from place to place, insomuch as it is a kind of an existential journey, a spiritual awareness. It is here where you begin to discover your essence and who you really are. Walking alone allows you time and space to think, to reflect and to contemplate. Even if the walk doesn’t provide an answer, for indeed there may be no answer, it’s the journey that matters – not just the physical one but also the more challenging mental one. Every walk is different and every walk is unique to that person.