How To Live In A Delightfully Uncrowded World
by James M. Dale
Don't be a lemming! Lemmings are creatures that do the same thing as everyone else does, and even at the same time. Lemmings work hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with an hour off (between 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m.). The lemming slumps into his car or on the train and goes to work at the same time as every other lemming. The lemming gets married in June and vacations in the summer. Saturday night is date night, even when the lemming's fur turns white. The lemming has the same conversations with the same people every day. "How 'bout those Dodgers? They need a long-ball hitter / top notch closer."
Lemmings leave home, because of the bad commute, an hour or more before 9:00 a.m. The return commute, because of the time of day, takes the same amount of time. Upon arriving home, the still commute-trembling lemming turns on the same television station, drinks the same drink and interacts or doesn't interact, in the exact way he has done every other day of his life with his significant other. Every holiday is celebrated "on" the designated day.
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Christmas is celebrated on the 25th day of December. The lemming makes his doctor's appointment at the same time as four other lemmings have scheduled their appointments (usually 9:00 a.m.).
The lemming drives his child to school at the exact same time as every other parent does. The lemming speaks in, and listens to, endless clichés all day. "How are you?" "I'm fine." "How are you?" "I'm fine." In political discussions, everyone in the room can predict, before he speaks, exactly what the lemming will say. This is true of almost every other utterance the lemming makes.
How can the lemming turn into a happy, fulfilled, interesting (to himself and others) human? How does he escape Lemmingland without moving to Big Sky Country and giving up great restaurants, plays, concerts (with good orchestras) lectures and other big city delights? The answer is simple. Think! Specifically, as a start to his personal thinking solutions, he should consider the following ideas:
Live Where You Work
Even grubby Dallas is now developing downtown lofts. Manhattan, Los Angeles and most other big cities are developing, or have developed, places to live downtown, near offices and big city entertainment, within strolling distance of charming restaurants, lectures halls, playhouses, grocery stores where you can buy supplies without parking in Disneyland-like lots.
If you love the suburbs, the lawns, the crabgrass parties, the hiking trails, LIVE THERE. Get a job, work from your home or open a business near your suburban home. If you want big city entertainment, take the train, the bus or the car to the city in after-traffic hours.
What is the most stressful part of your day (unless you are a member of a swat team)? It isn't the time spent in your office preparing a presentation. It isn't time spent in class teaching kids. It is the time in the car following red tail lights or on the train trying to read your paper while a strap hanger's clothing or body parts brush across your face!
If You Must Commute
Take the freeway or the train when it is empty. Get on the freeway or the train at 5:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m., not at 7:00 a.m. Return at 3:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m., not at 6:00 p.m. Enjoy an uncrowded commute. If you use public transit, take along those big earphones that either play soothing music or, even better, block out all sounds, including the braying of the cell phone donkeys. Think of the special pleasure that you will have when the cell phone idiot starts bleating into his phone about his big, pending deal or about his child's athletic prowess, of reaching into your briefcase or bag and ostentatiously putting the sound blockers on your ears. The loud sigh that you utter as privacy enters your life will irritate the donkey and make the other commuters envious.
What If Your Spouse Or Significant Other (S.O.) Is A Night Person And You Are A Morning Person?
If your s.o. naturally arises at 10:00 a.m. and consequently makes the late commute and your circadian rhythm puts you on the freeway or in the train at 5:00 a.m., there is still time when you are together. You will be relaxed together in an unfrazzled state.
Get to the restaurant either at the moment it opens or an hour before it closes. You can eat at the best place in town without crowds and without overworked, testy waiters.
Don't dine out on Friday or Saturday night.
Go to the matinee.
Do it at 5:00 a.m. or 8:00 p.m. You will be cruising alone down the aisles checking nutrition labels, comfortable in the knowledge that, when you are ready to check out, you won't be in a line in which a senior lady carefully counts out coupons, disputes prices, chats with the cashier about her grandchildren or carefully searches her purse for her checkbook or for loose change (all, of course, after her entire basket of goods have been entirely rung up)!
Office And Shop Living
Even if your door is "always open"; keep it closed. If you must, put a sign on the door that says, "This door is open, please come in." At least you will block out the sounds of clichés being uttered, especially during top cliché times; arriving at work or leaving work.
If nothing else succeeds, retreat into what the Japanese call their "wa". In an island overpopulated for hundreds of years, the Japanese learned early to find their calm center (their wa) and retreat there even in the middle of a clamoring fish market.
What If You Are Single And Don't Want To Be?
Do you really think that you will find Mr. Right or Ms. Willing in a singles bar or other meat market? Go to a gathering of other people who have similar interests. Bird watching, astronomy, Israel, environment protection. Not only will these meetings usually be small, they will be focused on matters that you care about. You are happy even if you don't connect with a soulmate.
Make the first appointment of the day with the health provider or hair cutter before her schedule gets jammed up with the flustered "I'm so sorry that I made you late" person. If you can't make the first appointment, make the last one when the servitor is rushing to get home.
Take the first flight of the day when the entire system hasn't yet been thrown off by events that happened across the country or across the world. For the first flight, it is more likely that the plane will be overnight at your departure gate.
Do not celebrate Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day. Celebrate on the following Sunday. Celebrate Christmas on the following Sunday. As a bonus, think of the after Christmas sales. Do travel on Thanksgiving and on Christmas. You will be alone on the flight. The lemmings have filled the planes a day or two before Thanksgiving or Christmas.
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Written by: James M. Dale Copyright (c) 2006-2010 James M. Dale, All Rights Reserved
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