I hate my desk chair. It’s lopsided and uneven. It reclines too easily and I find myself hunched over my laptop all day, which leaves me with a sore neck, sore back and a headache. I never feel terribly productive or creative sitting in this chair, yet it’s the best of the ten or so that I’ve tried. It bothers me more on some days than it does on others. Yesterday was the former.
I was stuck on some problems and there was a welcomed, if unreasonable, warm snap that blew through town. Thirty degrees warmer than it had been last weekend. A little rainy, but thirty degrees. I decided to blow off my regular lunch routines – namely driving around until something sounds good or sitting in the kitchen in the office, staring down some leftovers and listening to a podcast. Both those options were as appealing as the chair.
Last week I decided I needed a break. I went outside at lunch. I walked a couple of miles in a cold, driving wind. I did a little exploring. I grew up in the suburbs. I live there now. I rarely get the opportunity to simply explore an urban environment. Most of the time, I’m going there with a purpose – to work, a ballgame, to make a dinner reservation. I never take the time to simply wander. That’s what I did. I wandered up and down the riverfront – past the construction sites, past the trash gathered along the fence that prevents people from jumping in to the quickly flowing waters of the Ohio. When I got back, I was cold, but alive. All of the sudden, my desk didn’t seem too bad. I got more work done. The afternoon flew by.
Then, a couple of days ago, the warm-up came and I was off again. This time on the other side of the river. This time in Kentucky, where I went geocaching for forty-five minutes and took the picture above from under a bridge. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you take the time to get out of the car and walk; amazing how it can really make your entire day.
I did it again today. I went to a part of town I had only ever driven. I took an apple with me and ate it as I walked. This time was all about geocaching, all about finding those treasures hidden by others and left for us to find. I solved a riddle and found a cache. I followed the clues to another and discovered a little candy store I had never noticed when driving by. I spoke to the owner for five minutes. It was a much better use of my time than anything I might have eaten from a drive-thru, anything I might have read on my Kindle sitting at that lonely kitchen table.
I tried a couple of years ago to start a Lunchtime Adventure Society at work. The idea was simple: once a month, an employee would take a group to a secret location in the city. If there was a cost, it had to be communicated ahead of time. If there was a need to carpool, it had to be arranged without revealing the destination. Employees would take turns acting as tour guides, sharing their favorite places with the people they share an office with 40 hours a week. It went pretty well the first couple of tries, but winter eventually killed it.
I didn’t fully realize how much I missed the LAS until last week, when I used my lunch hour as an escape. And while I hope to one day resurrect the idea, I think I’ll keep it to myself for a while. Find some more geocaches. Walk under a few more bridges. Do things I wouldn’t normally do.
And change my perspective every once in a while.