A Challenge Part 1 – A Longish Story

Angeles Arrien Quote 

I’ve been a little frustrated lately and have been thinking about life in general. In the last couple weeks I read three really good books, Overdressed, The Happiness Project, and The Dirty Life which merely served to strengthen what I’ve been thinking. I’ll probably post on those books separately. So I’ve developed a challenge for myself. But first a story.

I must tell you I grew up in the very northeastern corner of New York. I mean the part of New York where people assume you’re really either Canadian or from Vermont. There isn’t much up there except trees, cows, and prisons. The mall and movie theater are an hour away, the highway is an hour on one side and two on the other. The dentist was 20 minutes north in Quebec. I never felt that I was wanting and I was almost always happy.

I moved to Norfolk/Virginia Beach VA about 5 and a half years ago. At first it was nice having a Wal-Mart down the street and grocery stores that had more options than you could ever figure out. The beautiful mall was just down the highway with stores like 9 West.

But along with the city came people. And I am generally not a fan of people. They tend to be very loud, un-empathetic, and use their rights as an excuse to treat others badly. At least the people around here do. So over time I’ve gotten grumpier and grumpier until this week when I announced at work that if they didn’t see me the next morning it would be because I packed a suitcase and went to Scotland and that they shouldn’t try to find me. Of course I didn’t fly away to Scotland no matter how much I might have wanted to but I still dream of the simple kind of life where people keep to themselves, come together for whiskey and music in the evenings, walk or ride bikes to get around, and so on and so forth.

Why am I telling you all this? Because it leads up to the real story. Friday I got home from work and it was a beautiful day. I needed to get a workout in and I also needed to go to the grocery store. It was too nice to exercise inside and I didn’t want to go for a run and potentially miss the beauty. I wanted to walk. So I walked to the store.

It wasn’t that far, about a mile and a half or so each way. But I walked slow (for me that is. I’m a power walker.) and I looked around me as I walked. The only thing that would have made it better is if a million cars weren’t driving by me. Once I got to the store I grabbed what I needed. Every time I reached for something I questioned whether or not it was worth carrying back. Because of this I walked out with only necessities. No crazy things that just grabbed my interest.

On the way back I noticed a small bakery tucked away in a strip mall. I had driven by it  about 6 times a week for years and had never noticed it. I figured I’d go in and ended up with some delicious pastries and meringues.

I could have driven to the store that day but I would have missed out on so much. We do so many things in a rush to move onto the next thing without really taking the time to enjoy and appreciate the process of the current task. The walk forced me to live in the moment.

So as much as I want to make a bunch of big changes (like moving to Scotland) to be “happier” I’m going to start making little ones that make me happier as I am today, in this apartment, and in this job. That is what this challenge will be all about.


Meringues really are quite delicious.


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