Stale air, florescent lights, lots of people, and the faint smell of plastic. Can you guess where I was?
It was my first trip to a mall in at least 6 months and I went into shock. The bright lights and the incredible amount of people out shopping surprised me. And made me wonder what people were shopping for. Maybe love and acceptance? Or even a new identity?
I don't have the answer to that question, but spending a few hours in the mall made me think about consumer culture and the lust for stuff.
So why was I at the mall?
Over the holiday I spent a lot of time with my Mom and she loves to shop. Shopping was something we did together when I was in college. During my time at CSU, Chico we would meet up for coffee and then we would walk around the mall to find the best deals on clothing. It was one way we spent time together. We would talk about everything from school to relationships, while we hunted down the best deals.
But shopping isn't the primary was we connect; at least not anymore. My mom has been really supportive of our lifestyle shift and when she comes to visit we go hiking, biking, and spend time eating amazing food.
Even though shopping isn't my idea of fun, my mom enjoys it. And I don't want to dictate everything that we do when she comes to Portland. So that's how we ended up at the mall in downtown Portland.
Rather than following my Mom around from shop to shop, I hung out in one of the courtyards by a large fountain. This particular spot was nice because there was natural light streaming through the huge skylights. A few years ago, I would have gotten really upset about this situation because I hate waiting for people. But I've learned to tame my temper over the years.
And surprisingly, spending time in the courtyard was fantastic opportunity to practice patience. What exactly does that mean? The dictionary defines patience as:
". . . the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset."
If you find yourself in a situation that isn't fun, think of ways to make the best of it. For example, I always carry a notebook and book with me. That way I can use my time well, if I have to wait for someone else. Or you can use the time to people watch and observe your surroundings. Take note of the sites, sounds, smells, and the types of folks you see.
Practicing patience is one way to learn new things about yourself. While I was at the mall, waiting, I observed two things about myself:
1. I'm learning to reign in my temper.
2. Once I get into the flow, I can write anywhere.
Remember . . .
Stories unfold everywhere, even at the mall. You just have to slow down enough to notice.