I often find myself lamenting that I reside in Columbia, South Carolina. There are many reasons I’ve created and rehearsed to justify this arrogant disapproval: There isn’t a large population of young professionals…many SC college graduates move to larger cities in nearby states, i.e. Atlanta and Charlotte. This is problematic for a few reasons, not least of which and most mentionable being a stunted dating pool. Next, Columbia is quite the conservative city. There is copious old white money and embarrassing white politicians (Joe Wilson the verbose Congressman and Thomas Ravenel the coke-dealer ).
Which leads me to my next grievance: A lack of diversity. Don’t get me wrong, the diversity is there…we’re just all segregated from each other into our own little neighborhoods, bars, malls, clubs, sections of town, churches, restaurants etc. And if that line is crossed, be prepared to be stared at or stared at and then condescendingly smiled at…depending on which way you cross. The music and art scenes are miniscule and the list goes on and on. Ironically the hated Gamecock community (I’m a Tiger through and through, orange blood and all) is the only place where almost all of these complaints can be dispelled, but what does that leave for those of us that aren’t USC students and don’t necessarily want to be immersed in the college scene of Five Points and the Vista? Well that’s a question I’ve decided to challenge myself to answer as a sort of personal quest. But first things first, a look in the mirror….
In the last few years I’ve continued to run into the idea that happiness and contentment are dependent upon our perceptions of reality and our perceptions of self. When obvious truths keep slapping me in the face, I usually take them as messages from the Universe to wake up and listen. And so, this particular truth calls for self reflection. After reflecting upon the previous paragraph, I can conclude: I’m really tired of all the whining and ungratefulness that goes on in the world, especially my own. I have so much to be grateful for but somehow I am never satisfied, nothing is ever enough. Would I really reach the ultimate place of joy and contentment if I moved to New York and had all the restaurants, art galleries, Broadway plays and lectures in the world to attend? I don’t think so…I’d still wish my boobs were bigger. So what if I got a boob job, that wouldn’t solve anything because I’d still be single. But then I’d find 100 things wrong with my man which would in essence mirror the 100 things I still don’t like about myself.
If I got that farm in Costa Rica and escaped the American Capitalistic Rat Race, I’d continue to wake up every morning in the same body, see the same face in the mirror and fight the same internal battles day after day until I resolved to revolutionize the most powerful weapon of all: My thoughts and therefore my mentality and perception of self, everything and everyone. Instead of finding everything miniscule thing that’s “wrong” with me and my life, instead of looking for and focusing on my short-comings I’d recognize them for what they are…make steps to improve them and then start focusing on what is right in my life and what is right with me! Instead of wishing for bigger boobs, I should love my curvy hips and workout more to increase my health, improve my appearance and prove to myself that I love Katie enough to do good things for her even when they hurt…even when they’re inconvenient to this American Capitalist Rat Race grind I’ve sold out to (for now). I’d meditate, practice being. Enjoy the stillness and simplicity of sitting quietly, doing nothing, thinking of nothing and finding it to be beautiful.
And back to Columbia…I’ve decided that while I’m here I’m going to explore, enjoy and appreciate what our capital city has to offer. And even though there is and will always be so many issues I butt heads with in this deep southern culture, South Carolina can’t be so bad if it’s the birthplace of my wonderful family, my friends…and myself. And I can’t be the only 20-something resident of Columbia with diverse interests, tastes and dreams…so here’s to getting over oneself and getting outside and living. Where you are, who you are…happily and open minded. First two adventures: Amsa Yoga and Bombay Indian Grill.