A Lesson From the Grocery Store

Originally posted at elephant journal.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
~ T.S. Eliot

I’ve recently been visiting family in my hometown.

Let’s just say that the place where I grew up doesn’t reflect my values. Actually, let’s say more about it: Southern Alberta is a politically conservative area. I don’t really feel as though I fit in here. Since I was young I’ve always known I would leave. And leave I did—though I come back and visit.

Growing up I had notions of a quaint and frivolous European lifestyle. Stopping by the bakery, meandering through narrow, cobblestone streets. I wanted it. I wanted something different than vast tracts of brand new subdivisions; residential areas specifically planned to be far away from commercial stores to keep traffic down. Something different than wide streets full of large, gas-guzzling vehicles. I wanted to be able to buy what I made for dinner that night on my walk home, not circuitously drive, dodging cul-de-sacs to get to my house.

Since then I’ve lived far away, across mountain valleys, continents and oceans. I’m back for a visit now. And for supper we didn’t have enough of something.

As I was walking the block and a half or so to the grocery store, I realized that I was getting my wish—I was able to walk a short distance for the needed ingredients for supper that night.

It was one of those “ah-ha” moments. I realized (again and again…and again) that life is what I make it and will change depending on my attitude. I can take whatever it is I am given, and consciously choose to let it fit into the life that I want to create for myself.

With this attitude, I could live anywhere. Sure, I would make particular decisions—such as living close enough to a grocery store that I would be comfortable walking to it—but I know that I can take responsibility for my life and not shift it off to the rest of society around me. If I don’t like something, change it. If I know I want something in my life, create it.

I walked along my old streets with a smile on my face, feeling content. The only disturbance was the usual one. The years-old grocery store renovation that’s exchanged the spots of the “in” and “out” doors. It’s something I’ve never seemed to let soak into my memory, and usually have a split second where I stand in anticipation, wondering why the automatic door isn’t swinging open for me.

Seems like the perfect time to update my understanding of my hometown.

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