Friday, March 26, 2010

Couscous, Silence, and Photographs

For the last few months, I have been reading the Happiness Project and have been trying to make my life more pleasurable. This month's challenge is to improve my work life. One of the pieces of advice engraved in the black and white text is to add more novelty and challenge to my day. I have always been a huge fan of trying new things and learning new skills, so I was excited to add this challenge to my to-do list. Accomplishing a difficult task or experiencing something new is invigorating, so the other night, I decided to try a new food I have always been curious about: Couscous. I had seen the food featured in recipes I have ripped out of magazines, but I had never actually bought it. While picking up milk and bananas at the local grocery store this week, I discovered couscous with mushrooms that cooked in five minutes. I was a little spectacle of the "five minute" ploy, but the dish was very easy to prepare. It may even be easier than my old stand by: brown rice. After savoring the delicious dish, I have decided to add this to my list of groceries to always have on hand.

Yesterday, work was torture, and I was feeling particularly stressed out. Since the weather was decent, I decided to walk around the park to clear my head. Normally, I stick my purple ear-buds into my ears before beginning my walk, but I had accidentally left my ipod at home. Strangely, it was the first time I had walked without music in a long time, and the silence gave the walk a different tone. I relished the sound of children laughing and of the gravel under my feet. I heard sirens, a donkey, and a gentle rustle of leaves. The new playlist was more relaxing and beautiful than the typical drums and guitars I listen to. While my ipod is helpful when I am trying to get my heart pumping, the natural melody is now my preferred soundtrack for relaxing walks.

This weekend I plan on starting a new project inspired by a tip I read in a magazine. The article suggested scrapbooking an ordinary week instead of a special occasion. While special occasions - holidays, weddings, vacations - are precious, the little moments are what add up over time and help create our identity. Starting tomorrow, I am going to photograph the ordinary parts of my day - my morning coffee, my attempts at exercise, my mountains of homework - and to collect the mementos of an ordinary day - grocery receipts, movie stubs, junk mail. Twenty, maybe even fifty years from now, I will be able to look back and share with the younger generation what life was like in 2010.

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