You’re on the phone with the cable company where their overworked smooth jazz hold music has been looping so many times that you’ve now memorized the melody, as well as counted the amount of seconds each verse and refrain takes before it starts allllll over again. Finally your customer service representative comes back on the phone only to tell you that he has to connect you with another absentminded employee who happens to have three more calls before you. You do some serious huffing and puffing and maybe even raise your voice at this guy for wasting the past few minutes of your life where you could have been watching that episode of Game of Thrones you missed last week. This is a choice. You’re midway through a monotonous day in a series of monotonous weeks where the drone of the real world, functioning adult life suddenly sucked this glamorous idea of where you thought you’d be after graduation out clean. You sit at your computer screen work dazed and unenthused by the amounts of times the front secretary has stopped into your office to remind you that copy machine isn’t working today. You roll your eyes after she leaves the room, because you. get. it. al-read-y. This is a choice.
These are perspectives and these perspectives stem from choices. The choice to be pissed at your Comcast technician. The choice to be annoyed by the over caffeinated secretary. Because in many of these seemingly enraging instances that occur waaaay more often than any of us would really like, we are faced with a choice. And guess which choice is the easiest to make? That’s right… the pissed one, the annoyed one, the aggravated one. That choice is a simple and comfortable one to make. But they are self obsessed ones and they cannot and will not be the choices that make your life more worth living. You, I, we, whoever, are not the center of the universe and the world cannot and will not change to suit our schedules, our timelines, our happiness.
We can be pissed at the Comcast guy or we can be empathize with this poor guy who has probably dealt with far more fist clenched, pissed off customers than yourself in the last hour alone. We can be pissed at the over anxious secretary or we can identify with a new girl who is eager to please and really just wants some few work friends to go out to get drinks after a long day. It’s easy to fall back on anger and annoyance. It takes insight to let go of your own ego infused ideas and simply reason with the fact that maybe, just maybe the millions of people that you happen to encounter everyday are fighting a battle you simply have no clue about.
Your life’s path and your perspective on your self’s journey is based off of the infinite amount of choices you encounter, including the ones you present to yourself. Be pissed or be empathetic? Be stubborn or be reasoned with? Say yes or say no? And guys, you should almost always say yes.
About a year ago I started taking an evening acting workshop every Monday. In this class, I learned some serious life lessons and self realizations without ever having to sit in a leather tufted chair across from a psychologist. I learned to say yes. I learned that by accepting whatever is presented to you (whether that’s a tone of voice, a choice made by a partner, a physical movement), you are always lead to honesty. I learned to say true observations without ulterior motives. I learned to open my arms to infinite amounts of ways one moment, or one scene for that matter, could take me with another person. And those two hour classes really struck me deep down. I started saying yes to almost everything. I tried new foods. I sat on park benches in all weather situations. I said hello and goodbye to new and old faces. I wrote a lot. I observed even more. I drove to new places. I fell in love. I said yes yes yes and more yes. And in doing so, a million new paths and possibilities laid in front of me.
In an effort to remain as honest as possible I will admit that somewhere in between those workshops and now, I lost that zeal to say yes. I don’t know where or how exactly, but somewhere along the line my fervent need to accept any and all experiences was dimmed. All I know is that I want to get back to that place. (Maybe I’ll just have to sign up for another set of classes, Anne!) Right now, I’m re-learning how to say yes and I’m un-learning how to be self obsessed with my choices of perspective. And I hope, really, that maybe a few of you might want to do the same too. I know some of you might get to this part of the post and start wondering why I’m getting so indepth on a more philosophical topic on a seemingly lighthearted travel blog. The truth is that this is what has been on my mind since watching this YouTube clip and doing with some real self reflection within the past few weeks. I want to be as transparent as possible on this blog (it is by me, of course). BUT! Even more so, I hope it might just happen to strike a nerve in a few of you all. Inspiration comes in all sorts of sizes, shapes, words, colors and topics after all. Let’s be kinder, let’s be more empathetic, let’s be open, let’s say yes… all of us.
A few friends and a quick hike on a bleak winter evening is a good thing to say yes to. A new place and a new adventure is almost always the easiest way to start. In this instance, the 501 Outlook north of Myerstown, PA, where the Appalachian Trail crosses with one of the area’s highways did the trick. This gem of an impromptu trip was only amplified by the addition of two really good friends and the perfect golden light as we turned around the corner to see the land lay open and snow covered in front of us. I’m always kind of stunned by how little places like this one, that are only a few minutes drive away from our apartment have still yet to be seen by more people. It just goes to show adventure is out there, even in your hometown… and you should say yes to it.