Settling back into my life in Minneapolis has been time spent reflecting, adjusting, and pondering what I want my life to look like moving forward. I’ve spent the last 4 years making adjustments to my life, scaling back the number of hobbies and interests that I attempt to fit into my life, or ridding myself of all the things that weigh me down. I’ve done this not really knowing where it’s leading me except for the ability to pack up and travel someplace with more ease and security.
You see, I’ve often spent my life thinking in terms of destinations. I’ll convince myself that once I arrive at someplace, I can finally think of my life as successful or that I’m well on my way to achieving happiness and contentment. I’ll often think about that next skill or success that will open up a door to greater success and happiness, while only whittling away more free time from just being or enjoying the time that I have.
I rented a car for the first week that I arrived home, thinking that I would find an old clunker to drive around within the first week. I had intended to adopt all of the interests that I filled my time with before leaving on my grand adventure. But a peculiar thing happened during that time. I came to realize very quickly that I didn’t really miss having to pay for all the things necessary to operate a vehicle such as gas, title, insurance, etc. I also didn’t miss having to fight for my safety against all the other idiots on the road. After a week, I gave up my rental car with no other options than to ride the metro system. My roommate also gave me a Go-To card for the metro so that I could get around. We posited that if I could just get through the next couple of weeks until the snow melted and it became easier to be outside, that I might get used to the metro system. Coupled with buying a bicycle, I might even be able to adopt a new healthy lifestyle where I might not even need a vehicle in my life.
It’s been a noble quest. After almost 5 weeks of using the metro system, I’m finding that I have become more tolerant of the metro system and am finding it to be a viable source of transportation around the cities. Obviously, anyplace that I want to go now requires more planning and effort. But that is surprisingly okay. I’m now forced to make a decision as to how much I really want to go somewhere. I’ve now removed many situations where I go someplace only to be disappointed that I spent the effort and time to go. And with limited space in which to carry things, I now shop for food in much smaller quantities. I am finding that not only am I using less space to store food, but this constraint is also helping me alleviate the problem of food getting forgotten and spoiling. Using the metro also requires me to walk a lot more than I normally would. I’ve spent more time enjoying the scenery around me, and getting exercise without having to make an effort to get to the gym. I’m starting to consider getting rid of my gym membership as well. My world has become smaller in terms of where I go and what I do.
However, Minneapolis is no Chicago. We lack an extensive subway / lightrail system that other large cities offer. I don’t always feel safe riding some of the buses late at night, or even the lightrail for that matter, when the stop is right outside some bars. I can pass the time easily during the day reading a book or my nook between destinations. That is as long as the other patrons are relatively quiet and not screaming into their phones, or trying to pick a fight with someone, or arguing about sports or which is better, Kentucky Fried Chicken or Popeyes. “I’m talkin’ bout the colonel!! The colonel, man! He’s responsible for all those hot sauces.” It’s distracting to say the least. And unfortunately, when I consider my own tolerance to the white noise of life, I find that I’m starting to lean towards buying a car for myself.
I mentioned in the last post, arriving at my friends storage shed only to discover that after living out of a bag for the last 4 months, that I could easily dispose of many of the things I had stored while away. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks organizing and determining which things I’m going to rid myself of. Being back and anticipating making some roots for at least the next 6 months to a year has caused me to fight my impulses for lightening my load a bit. I try and convince myself that I will now need many of the items in storage. But I know in my heart, I probably won’t. I can probably get rid of my snowboard. When I only snowboard once or twice a year, it doesn’t really make much sense to keep a snowboard around; especially when I can rent that equipment at a resort. I’m finding that I don’t need near as many of the kitchen supplies that I think I do to make a good meal. And I definitely don’t need all of the clothes that I’ve acquired over the last decade.
All of this has been an exercise in quantifying how much I need to be happy. We make excuses for why we cannot have the type of life that others have. Or, we make comparisons and assumptions about the quality of life that other people have without having the perspective of actually experiencing life in another way. Rarely will we put ourselves in those situations by choice, but once placed into those situations either inadvertently or by circumstance, we readily adjust and find that what we had before wasn’t all that great and that how we live our life now is quite simply, better. And that is the crux of my education. I’m finding that rather than happiness being found by arriving at a destination, it is instead being found by simplifying my life so that I might spend more time enjoying the simple things in life.