What it Takes to Feel Connected
Since moving to Portland, I have felt a little disconnected to the place. All I see of the city on the average day is one street between my corporate apartment and work. All I see from my bed is my office and all I see from my desk is my bed. It is a confining view. Yesterday I went into work briefly but couldn’t wrap my heart around solving the day’s creative problem. I was not disgruntled to be in the office on another weekend, but I couldn’t muster a care either. My brain kept repeating “walk, walk, walk.” It was a mandate. I headed outside and took a long walk to the Northwest to look at a small studio. While not in reasonable walking distance from work, it was cheap and in a nice neighborhood. The landlord was very friendly, as was his wife. And beyond the requisite housing questions there was plenty of pleasant small talk. Afterwards I went walking around the neighborhoods, taking a break for a bowl of bad Pho (tip-off: the restaurant served Thai and Vietnamese food) but having a pleasant interchange with the waitress (who was Korean, as were the owners I think) and one of the owners. I even asked him to recommend the best Thai and Vietnamese restaurants in the city. And he did so cordially, not taking any offense that his restaurant wouldn’t be on the list.
My approximate route:
The evening was falling, so I hopped on a bus to get downtown to a musical instrument store before it closed. I ended up having two good conversations with employees, and left with a new MIDI keyboard, a harmonica, and some guitar picks. I walked all the way back home, stopping at the grocery story where I had two more pleasant interchanges with customer and register wench.
As of Thursday, I have walked for about 8 hours total in bizarre loops around town. The first excursion was to find ping pong balls, the next was to buy pants and groceries, and the third was just mentioned above. Walking makes me feel good. I don’t think I am truly happy unless I am walking around enough.
Another lesson I seem to forget: if you greet people with a smile they will respond in kind.