After the run I was relaxing in the clubhouse at Willow Wind RV Park and Campground in Hurricane, Utah. I was icing my hip and watching World Series game five with two other guests, Jose and Frank.
In between innings we chatted about where we were from, what brought us to Utah and other similar topics. Frank is a retiree on his way to California from Montana to visit his daughter. He loves the Zion area and comes often to mountain bike.
Jose has been living at the RV park for almost four years. He is originally from Washington Heights in Manhattan. We chatted about NYC for a bit. He’s been gone from the City for close to 30 years and has no plans to go back. I also got the impression that he was retired.
Frank asked what I eat when doing all this running. This is a common question. I explained that I eat vegan – as much fresh produce as possible and a hearty amount of rice and beans.
Jose jumped in to say that he loves to cook: it is a passionate hobby. I mentioned to them that I believe eating simply is healthy but I also said that when back in NYC I didn’t prepare anything complex because I didn’t believe it was worth the effort for only one person.
Jose emphatically disagreed. He said that even though he lives alone, every day he prepares himself a fully cooked dinner, eaten on nice plates with a glass of wine. He said with full conviction: You need to love yourself and treat yourself well. If you don’t who will?
You could see that lived by his words. He was a very happy, laughing man. He loved himself. It didn’t matter what things he has or doesn’t have. It didn’t matter that he lives in an RV park. He didn’t care what other people thought.
Since then I’ve recounted his words many times.
I admit that I get caught up in using external comparisons to measure internal happiness and that makes me, not happy. I don’t always love who I am. I beat myself up for not earning more, moving up faster, having “nicer” things. I compare myself to my business school colleagues who are more “successful”. I still get caught up in the American cultural expectations for more, for bigger, faster, better, fancier, but funny enough, not happier.
I had started a physical and mental purging before I left New York City and I’ve continued it on my trip. Not being as worried about what people think is liberating. It is not an easy habit to break though. I often have panics that “I have nothing”. I don’t own a house. I’m not renting a nice apartment. I don’t even have a job. What the hell am I doing?
In comparison to some, I don’t have a lot. In comparison to many, many others here and around the world, I am very well off. So instead of continuing to beat myself up, I try to turn it around.