I don’t take the freeway when I drive into work in the morning. It’s usually stop-and-go and stressful, so I take the city streets to the office. The street route takes about the same amount of time, yet I get to see different things every day. An extra long line at the two-lane McDonald’s drive-thru. Twenty cars lined up to get on the freeway. A car driving through a total red light because he, obviously, just had to be somewhere before everyone else.
Recently, lots of apartment complexes have been going up in the Irvine area. We have several colleges and universities here in Orange County, and many businesses and office buildings. Most of the apartments look like boxes, square and all the same.
Today, when I sat at a red light near The Alton (clever name for a complex on Alton Parkway!), I spied a man in his red plaid pajamas standing on his patio petting a white dog. (It might have been a cat; I’m not sure.) I stared and stared.
Happiness is the new rich. Inner peace is the new success. Health is the new wealth. Kindness is the new cool.
I was jealous. Maybe this guy has the day off and doesn’t have a care in the world except for fresh air and holding his pet. It’s not that I would have stood on my patio in my PJs petting an animal, but it’s the thought of not having a care in the world. Oh, sure, he could have been nursing a hangover, or could have just gotten off a double-shift at the local hospital.
But I was envious of a stranger taking in the fresh air and seemingly not caring about anything. And then I started feeling guilty. Yes indeed. I have a nice-size patio at my condo and it’s full of beautiful flowers and plants. Every weekend I intend to take my book and cup of coffee out there, sit on a comfy (yet dusty) patio chair, and relax. Of course, sometimes it’s so relaxing that the book falls from my lap and my head rolls back, and then I’m asleep.
However, the weekend comes and the patio doesn’t call my name. At least not loud enough for me to hear it. Why is that?