Wherever you go, there you are

For the first couple of days of my vacation in Boulder I really fell for it– gorgeous scenery and weather, enough stuff to do to keep me entertained and happy, very friendly towards bicycles and public transportation– and I started thinking I might want to live there. I even complained a little to Carolyn about Houston.

Specifically, my complaints are that I find it rather difficult to live a healthy lifestyle in Houston, given factors such as the difficulty of walking or biking as modes of regular transportation, the heat/humidity and the polluted air, lack of green space for such activity, and relative lack of healthy options for food.  My complaints have their own merit, but when I came back, rejuvenated from a nice brief vacation after spending nearly the entire summer so far either sick or in recovery– I stopped to think about them, and I realized at the fundamental problem is that, being sick lately, I haven’t been able to exercise, and, beyond that, I’ve gradually been making choices with less and less concern as to how they affect my health. And I may be overreacting to those things by looking for an external cause.

I complain that Houston is a difficult city in which to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But what’s so much more difficult about it now than 2009, when I was in great shape and great health? If anything, the city itself is a better place for people than it was then, as far as I can tell, with increasing acceptance and use by young people of things like bicycles and farmer’s markets. There are tangible external reasons that have made it difficult to stay in shape– my regular basketball games breaking up is one– but the biggest reason I haven’t stayed in shape is that I got complacent and lazy.

I have often found in my life that when I  find myself complaining about some external situation, the truth is that there is some personal, internal change I could make that could solve the problem, and finding something to blame is just an excuse for me not to do so. It is true that moving somewhere else would be better for my health. It is also true that I could make some different decisions, right here, and be much healthier. And I need to change my decisions, because those are what I can change right now.

I still plan to move out of Houston; my largest current reason is that I need to move out of America in general, since the powers that be here have decided to cripple my chosen industry, and for various reasons, I don’t have a backup plan. But I also want to move somewhere that makes it easier to live the lifestyle I want to live.  I would hate to think I would never be able to return to America; I still have hope that the nature of progress will mean that my line of work and lifestyle choices will be compatible with the laws in this country someday in the not-too-distant future. And when that day comes, I think I’d like to live somewhere like Boulder.

(* – Which isn’t to say I don’t have other things I like to do with my life, even productive things, only that no one will pay me money to do any of them, at least not yet.)

The mountain setting is beautiful; there’s a major city just down the road (and lots of nature just down the road in the other direction). I like being in a college town, because it guarantees a certain amount of young, intellectually curious people, and the culture that arises around them as a result. For a town its size, there were a surprising number and variety of restaurants (we ate pizza, Thai, Indian/Himalayan, burgers, traditional brunch… we unfortunately didn’t get to sample the Ethiopian or Cajun places in town, but I intend to next time I’m there)– and that isn’t to mention the farmer’s markets, organic grocers, or restaurants that serve farm-to-market other otherwise local/fresh ingredients.

That day is not here yet, though. And while I’ll be happy when I can “retire”, so to speak, to a place like that, right now I have plenty of reasons to be happy, too. And I’m in a situation where the quality of my life and the success of my projects, as far as I can see, depends mostly on the amount of time and effort I put into them.

So anyway, I guess the point is: Figure out what you can change about your circumstances, instead of worrying or blaming the things you can’t. Not the most original insight, but still something to remember.

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