In June of 2010 I bought the cutest car I'd ever seen that I'll possibly ever be able to afford. Hours were spent haggling and haggling the price but I knew that one way or another, I was absolutely going to own the sporty little white Cobalt with black leather seats. Oh, she was chic! Naturally I named her Coco. We drove off the lot blasting One Republic's "Apologize," the string arrangements on the song sounding incredible coming out of my brand new speakers and floating out my open windows.
Despite my love for Coco and listening to live music out open windows, the act of driving became a weight on me a little bit more every day. I lived in a neighborhood where I could walk to at least 3 grocery stores, a wine shop, a bakery, more than a handful of bars and restaurants, several friends' houses, and my gym among other things. Each time Coco and I headed out to drive across town, changing multiple lanes in the span of one exit and dealing with traffic stressed me out. One day I walked from a friend's house to the store - 3 city blocks distance - and back again to his house only to have him look at me in surprise: "How did you get to the store!?"
Um... I walked there.
I know not everyone has the option to destination-walk from their homes, but it baffled and saddened me that it didn't even occur to people in very walkable neighborhoods to try it out from time to time. We don't all NEED our cars all of the time. To me, this was just one symptom of a widely accepted every day laziness. (Three city blocks!)
I sold Coco when I moved to New York, a place I chose in part because of the widely accepted use of public transportation and then the same thing drew me to Portland a year and a half later, though in Portland it is much more of a challenge to be car-less. Just a few days ago I was carrying groceries home. It's a little under a mile each way and I tend to buy right to the limit of what I can physically carry. "Why do I do this to myself?!" I wondered, hiking the heavy paper bag higher on my hip for the umpteenth time.
Because it's a lifestyle I believe in. Because I don't back down from a challenge. Because taking the easy way out does not help me to grow as a person. Because the walking and carrying is healthy - my biceps were sore the next day - and because I am capable of walking. Because the things I see on my walks I would never notice out my car windshield. Because the people I meet on the bus I would never encounter otherwise. One day for example the sweet older woman next to me gave me a tour of the city through her eyes, out the window of the bus.
Before you retort with, "But I have two kids" or, "I don't live near anything I would want to walk to!" Please know that I get it - this isn't a lifestyle that's actually possible for many people. And I'm not saying I'll never own a car again (I plan to have a few kids too.) What I am saying is, this is why I, myself, personally, choose to live this way right now.
The one downside? I wear heels less these days...
Which of your own WHYs is inspiring you most greatly this week?