And here it is folks. The sunshine and the roses.
I woke on Saturday morning to find that I had officially lost ten pounds since beginning my weight loss journey several weeks ago. It felt good. But even more than that, I felt good. I felt good enough to pop out of bed and take Nilla for a brisk walk with Chris before even thinking about doing anything else at all.
This may seem simple but it is not how my days typically begin. Mornings have been difficult, almost painfully so. Each day, I blink my eyes open, drift back off for another half an hour, and repeat several times before finally lumbering out of bed, feeling achingly far from rested. I throw down a puppy pad for Nil, put on a pot of coffee, and sink into my day. Only during the past week has this started to change.
After our walk, a healthful breakfast, and a tiny bit of TV, Chris and I got ready and went out to lunch at Café Blossom (the food was good, the service not so much). Feeling energized after eating, we spent the afternoon meandering our way down through Central Park.
We breathed in the cool air, smelled the leaves, squinted happily into the sun. I stopped to take photos occasionally. At one point, I snapped a couple shots of Chris and he reached for the camera so he could take a couple of me. I taught him how to tell when the lens was focused (my 50mm is manual) and let him go. When we reviewed the shots and he saw that, after taking a step to the left, the photos were suddenly over-exposed, I explained aperture and shutter speed, touched on ISO, and showed him how to keep an eye on the in-camera light meter.
I felt proud that I was able to relate it with clarity, moved that he was interested.
We stopped for a bit to admire a bride and groom having their photos taken. Then, not twenty minutes later, began to lose count of how many flashes of white we saw through the trees. Borrowing loosely from Billy Idol, it was indeed a nice day for a wedding.
After emerging from the park, we took a leisurely trip to Whole Foods, scanning every aisle for needs and wants. We came home. I made dinner. We took Nilla for another walk. We sat quietly and read.
This is the kind of day I have been dreaming about for so long. We have them occasionally, but the “going out” portion of it usually ends with both of us exhausted—happy, but still exhausted. It makes things difficult when you’re fighting fatigue. Moreover, it makes it easier to just stay inside.
When Chris and I sit down and talk about what we want to improve on and what will make us happier in our lives, this sort of day is what we often come back to. We want to take Nilla for more walks, eat at places we generally consider “out of the way”, explore the parts of our city that we rarely see. We want to experience and share more. During these talks we set goals and make plans, but the resolve always dissipates once we get a day or two away from the motivated conversation.
I used to imagine we’d only consistently have days like Saturday when (if) we move out of the city. Only then will our lives change; only then will things feel easy and slow and happy. Surely it’s the city that has held us back. Remembering those thoughts in the context of now, I was reminded of something I read by either Thoreau or Emerson over a decade ago. I’m not certain that this is exactly what I was looking for, but this excerpt from Emerson’s Self-Reliance seems about right:
“Traveling is a fool’s paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.”
You can change where you are, but who you are comes along too. Uprooting oneself can be a bit like geographic plastic surgery, a surface application in an attempt to adjust something askew on the inside. Of course, not all cosmetic alterations or physical relocations are done for those purposes. It’s when the sentence ends with “…and then I’ll finally be happy,” that you’re likely to end up right back where you started, only with a different face or a new address.
It turns out we’ve just been too tired to live the life we’ve been dreaming. Not because of too much work or a lack of sleep, but because we haven’t been taking the best care of ourselves. This, I’m realizing with more force and significance than I imagined, is one of the most important results of making oneself healthier: the increase of energy. A beautiful consequence of eating better and treating yourself well is that you live more fully.
Once you take on your giant, even home can be intoxicating.
The ten pounds was nice, but days like Saturday are the blood and breath I need to keep me on this path—days like Saturday and the promise of more to come.