Saturday, November 22, 2008

Still Going

I'm happy to report that I haven't cheated yet, nor am I missing Starbucks. I'm thinking of extending my Week of No Starbucks to two weeks. I am not completely sure about that yet, but I have entertained the thought.

I have fully realized now that going to Starbucks three or four times a week was a mere habit. Yes, I enjoyed having caffeinated drinks and spending time with friends or doing homework, but it was a habit nontheless. It's alarmingly easy to fall into a routine. This is something transcendentalists despise about society. We live lives of routine, and it's a great deal easier to simply go through the motions and to follow your routine rather than to break it. I think this is why transcendentalists go out into the wilderness or merely wander---this is the antithesis of routine. It's impossible to know what you'll do the next day or where to end up next. In the "real" world, though, we know precisely what we're going to do the next day; we will wake up, go to work or school, come home, go to bed, and repeat it all again day after day after day. I'm not condemning routine; I'm simply making observations. In a way it can be comforting. But it can sometimes get boring. In my Intro to Drama class, we were recently discussing Hamlet. In the pivotal scene of this play, he asks himself the well-known question: "To be or not to be?" Although for most of us it has never become quite that drastic, my teacher observed that at some point in our lives, we have stood in front of the mirror and asked ourselves, "Who am I? Is this all? I'm not happy with my life; will it ever change?" Everyone has probably experienced a moment such as this one. We become temporarily dissatisfied with our lives and how mundane we think they are and we wonder if they'll ever take a different path. The great majority, however, stop at this and resume their lives, no matter how dissatisfied they may be. This is where transcendentalists differ. They make a concious decision to propel their life down a path directly opposite of the one on which they have been walking. Chris McCandless is a shining example of this: he became dissatisfied with his affluent lifestyle and college education. He donated the remainder of his college funds to OXFAM and left to wander the US for two years, later venturing into the Alaskan wilderness and eventually dying there. Many suspect he died peacefully, however: after twenty or so years of living his life the way he was expected to, he was finally living for himself and going down the path that he chose. He broke the routine.

Although merely giving up Starbucks cannot be compared to this, it is a way to break a part of my routine, however small it may be, and I like to think that I'm somewhat better off for it.


Kristin L said...

Amy--I admire your willpower. Thoreau encouraged his fellow human beings to "Simplify, simplify, simplify!" Do you feel that your life has been made simpler by eliminating this part of your routine?

ParkerH said...

You know, I don't think this can apply to me. I've never even had coffee, so... yeah. The thing is, if not having Starbuck's becomes your routine, the whole purpose is defeated. Does that make sense? And another thing... don't just go right back to doing the exact same thing. That would defeat the purpose too. Still, I think that you doing this is kinda cool.

amyw said...

@kristinl---Yes, I do feel like this part of my life has been made simpler. It's times like this, experimenting with giving up certain things for a certain amount of time, where you see just how much is necessary to live. We tend to embellish our lives when they don't really need to be embellished. So even if it's something small such as this, yes, it does simplify it! :)

@parkerh---I honestly hadn't thought of this before, that not having Starbucks could become a routine too. It's an interesting thanks! And I'm not going to go back to going there 3 or 4 times a week either. It's all about the happy medium, right? :)

morganw said...

Amy - Yes a happy medium is the key. Balance is important in all aspects of life. Without it, too many problems arise. However, sometimes your balance isn't necessarily someone else's. Balance is a tough thing to obtain and even tougher to mantain.