Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Taking the hard way

I was looking at one of the campus shuttle routes the other day and had to shake my head. All this popular route does is go from one parking lot to one building. To walk this distance would take about five minutes, and yet people get out of their cars every morning, get into the shuttle, and allow themselves to be transported to their building. I don't think it's even any faster to take the shuttle than to walk, thanks to traffic and the horrible design of the streets in that area.
I overheard a conversation the other night by some students at the rec center. They apparently lived on upper campus and one was complaining about the walk back up the hill. As if it was the most obvious solution in the world another girl answered, "We drove."
I want to know how it got to the point where society places supposed convenience above everything else. It's "too hard" to walk up a hill, so people drive instead--taking just as long, but avoiding all that work. (The work of getting to the gym.) It's "too cold" in Fairbanks to be outside, so people avoid it altogether when possible. It's "too hard" to take the stairs, so people use the elevators to go up or down one or two floors. It's "too difficult" to cook, so people order out or microwave something.
And then they wonder why they're overweight.
I want to know when people stopped recognizing these excuses as excuses and simply started accepting them as facts of life. Because really, this has become the prevailing idea. It's not one or two outliers, it's most people who make these excuses not to exert themselves in any way. And yet they never realize that they're creating more work for themselves by avoiding any "hard work". Between paying for parking, finding parking, plugging in my vehicle, and the time/energy/effort it takes to gas up the truck frequently, I find it more of a hassle to drive to work than to walk. Yes, even at -40. Maybe especially then, since the truck needs so much time to idle and warm up. I would actually have to wake up earlier on the coldest days to get the truck started in time. And then breathe in the noxious fumes it would create.
In addition to all of this, the walking has become my "me" time. I'm more relaxed both at work and at home. I have time to listen to my music (when I remember my iPod), to think about things, and to absorb my day. Even if I had a crappy day, I feel better by the time I get home. I'm ready to tackle the next project.
I read an article a while ago about the benefits of doing daily tasks mindfully. (I'm sure there are tons of those out there.) The author was talking about how something as simple as cooking dinner for your family can change from being just another chore to get through to something meaningful. After all, when you craft a meal for your family you're nourishing them on a very basic level. Doing this with love, knowing that it's for a good purpose, and taking the time to enjoy the process of cooking can remove the stigma of it being "a chore" and make it into something more special. I've definitely been enjoying cooking more since reading that, and it's made me a more careful cook.
Again, if I decided not to cook it would require a fair amount of effort. I could order in every night, but the variety of foods which can be delivered isn't very big, and it's quite costly. So to get anything else, I'd have to drive and I've already stated why I find that a hassle. Is it really so much easier to live that way than to learn a few simple recipes and to grocery shop once a week? If you have a crock-pot, you don't even need to do much work to have a home-cooked meal. Same with bread machines. (I'll give mine another try, but I'd still much rather bake bread myself. I find the whole process relaxing.)
People often cite convenience as the number one reason why they won't change their habits. But when examined, a lot of these habits aren't actually all that convenient. It just seems silly to me that people fight so hard against new ideas which would actually help them.

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