As always, I am enjoying myself immensely here in England. I have completed 5 weeks out of the 7 total weeks living in my current house in Devon. I have become very attached to the house owners’ dog, Amber, and am not looking forward to our inevitable parting when I am off to Dorset on January 7th. We have been keeping busy with walking and hiking everyday. Amber is a Hungarian Vizsla so she has an enormous amount of energy. I have been driving her (sometimes with Chewy) to the beautiful idyllic settings that Dartmoor freely exhibits. We recently drove about an hour to Hope Cove and Amber was able to play in the seashore. There was also a great hiking trail that followed the coast onto the next village. We walked for hours and loved every minute. After a satisfying day we ended up at a pub and I had the best chicken fajitas so far since I left the states. I am having such a great time with Amber! She is also very attached to me, which the owners told me ahead of time that bonding is very common for this breed. I left her with a very familiar neighbor for a few days while I traveled to London to pick up Traci from the airport. Only to return to a very excited, while simultaneously distressed, dog who slept very close to me that night. I vowed to not be parted from her again during my stay here. While I was in London I took advantage of the beautiful local parks. Many are paid for by the UK Lottery system. I know we have city parks in the US but they don’t really compare to the ones in England. Here the parks are often huge and include miles of trails to roam around in. The dogs are always able to be off their leashes which is a nice bonus for me. 🙂 It’s easy to spend an entire day enjoying the immense surroundings and chatting with the lovely, congenial people the park brings together. When Chewy and I arrived at a park known as Bushy Park, there were hundreds of people dressed up as Santa Claus walking past us towards their cars. I later discovered there was a Santa 5K run that just took place. It seemed very uncomfortable in the beards and heavy clothing, but there were so many smiling faces I couldn’t help but smile myself. Unfortunately, I arrived too late to provide photos of the event. However, I hope the general splendor of the area is more than enough to satisfy.
Now that Traci is here time is just flying by. We’ve spent a lot of time driving from place to place with the dogs. We’ve been enjoying the local food and chatting with the very pleasant residents of this wonderful country. Traci keeps mentioning how nice people are here in England. I couldn’t agree more. There is always a friendly face nearby who is open to questions or just random conversation. It probably helps that we have American accents as this is always a good ice breaker. Yet, it’s much more than that. Since I have arrived in the UK, I’ve continuously felt that the people here live a very happy and harmoniously life. I know that’s a large, broad statement based entirely on anecdotal evidence. But I am also going with my gut on this one. I have now spent a good amount of time within seven different locations within this country. I believe, the quality of life for the people in England is quite good. The closest town I am currently in proximity to is called Exeter, which has a population of about 180,000 residents. I easily spent more time talking to people within the town in one day than my entire four weeks in Spain. Granted, there was a language barrier, but it’s deeper than that. The people here are joyful, just generally in good moods and happy to be of assistance. It could also be due to Christmas being only a few days away. Although, I’ve been here since mid September when it was still warm and was consistently greeted with the same cordial inhabitants. No, I truly believe I have found the genuinely cheerful mecca of the world. These experiences with others have made an impact on how I view my own joyfulness. I tend to savor my experiences much more here. It is incredibly easier to feel happy even if I am having an off day. We live in a global society that values the quick, micro bursts of pleasure. I was, and at times still am, just as guilty of this. I find a cute cat gif and then immediately move on to the next one perpetually searching and searching. Not really sure what I am searching for honestly. If you aren’t yet familiar with Chamath Palihapitiya, he is definitely worth checking out. He is a Facebook founder that is very open about his tremendous guilt regarding the behemoth he helped create and the implications of how consumer internet businesses knowingly exploit the psychology of individuals. It comes down to companies understanding how to manipulate the user in order for them to “like” something to provide that very fleeting dopamine hit. I don’t want to just pick on facebook as there are many outlets for this same compulsion. Yet, something that is consistent among the users is that these short-term feedback loops become an addiction. This is also where the money flows endlessly in creation. More and more resources are devoted to finding the “hook” except, when it comes down to it, scientifically this doesn’t make us any happier than when we started. Personally this made me feel more empty inside. Don’t you personally find this to be true? Endlessly clicking on quotes or PNGs that will sometimes inflict a brief chuckle before promptly diving in for more. This doesn’t create happiness and we know it. This is also precisely why I do not attach my blog to any social media platforms. Yes, the growth is much slower and it takes more commitment, but the end result is something I can be proud to deliver. Life isn’t about the instant gratification. I’m learning that the enjoyment of our experience comes from actually taking the time to earnestly savor and relish the moment for weeks, even months or years down the road. Something I can receive from a slice of delicious cheesecake or a stroll in the park. How incredible life is when we stop looking at our phones and sit back and bask in the encounters that are freely offered. It’s very empowering to truly not giving a damn about what people think or how many “likes” or “follows” are acquired on Instagram. Sort of like deprogramming ourselves and becoming part of the world again. Words can not express how amazing this feels. I no longer feel anything even close to depression. I only feel perpetual abundance. I’m not saying give up social media entirely, but as Chamath says, shouldn’t we at least be talking about how this is hindering our very existence? “We are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works.” I think this is definitely worth a discussion to work together to form a solution to this ongoing programming.