Living on the road this past month has given me a better appreciation for life’s simple pleasures. Those small enjoyable moments that often go unnoticed in our hurried lives become more obvious when you are without them, and have time to pause and acknowledge them.
I never imagined I would utter the words, “walking around Walmart with my hot coffee makes me so happy”. But, after three chilly mornings in the van I uttered those words and Nick looked at me like I had lost my mind and laughed; “Bea, can you hear yourself?”. It seemed like the most ridiculous statement for someone on a trip visiting some of the most beautiful location in North America, but at that moment it felt like such a treat. My daily trail runs through the Skaha Bluffs were truly the highlight of my days, but when you wake up in a cold van and desperately need to go pee you really start to appreciate that warm familiar Walmart bathroom and the convenience of exchanging a couple dollars for a hot cup of McDonald’s coffee. I would often just walk around the store with my coffee in hand and ‘people watch’ until it warmed up outside or Nick got up and we were ready to start our day.
After a week of 'people watching' at the local Walmart I began to look at our consumer culture with skepticism and weariness- are all these choices, and all this stuff really necessary? The amount of things we feel we need, amazes me. Scented candles, ‘throw’ pillows (you know the ones you just throw on the ground to get out of your way because they serve no real purpose), countless numbers of shoes for every occasion imaginable (they even have ‘training’ shoes now, only meant for indoor gym use-what happened to everyone owning one pair of good old fashioned running shoes that you wear for multiple purposes?), kitchen utensils and appliances (many which sit in cupboards unused), and I could go on. We are a consumer culture, and it makes sense when it is cheaper to buy something new than it is to get the old one fixed. Stores are stocked to the brim with an insane variety of items, and a single city may have a dozen stores that sell the same item, so you also have the choice of where you are going to go to purchase your items.
I have never been a ‘shopper’, even from a young age. I dreaded being dragged around stores with my mom or having to buy a dress for prom. When it comes to retail stores, I have always wanted to go in, grab what I needed quickly and get out of there. I become easily overwhelmed by the endless variety of consumer goods, and amount of choices available. For example, Nick and I went to the movies one night while in Penticton. He had a voucher which entitled us each to a large popcorn and fountain drink. Normally, I would just drink water, but I thought what the heck, it’s free! I don’t know if you have been to the movies lately, but I haven’t been in over a year-so this new fountain drink self-serve machine was a bit of a mystery to me. There must have been over 50 options of beverages to choose from. Finally, because I could see Nick was getting impatient, I chose Ginger Ale, but to my dismay making that choice brought me to another screen so I could select the type of Ginger Ale I wanted! Did I want diet, vanilla, raspberry, lemon, and the list went on. Not being a pop drinker I had no idea that they had come out with so many flavors over the last ten years. Where would they go from here?! I chose the classic Ginger Ale and with each sip I wondered should I have tried something else?, the vanilla maybe, or gone with the diet? Had I made the right decision? Too many choices can lead to anxiety at making the wrong choice, or a feeling of missing out on something else.
Life in the van is simple. I am ecstatic to be able to have a hot cup of black coffee in the morning and a warm place to go pee; anything beyond that is just icing on the cake. Simplifying our needs can really highlight our values and lead to a great sense of satisfaction with our lives.
What does it mean to be an HSP?
Simple pleasure Vs. Complexity Anxiety (Day 31 on the road)
Becoming Aware (Day 14 on the Road)
Blaze your own Trail in 2017
Photo by Nick Haycock