Days of New Experiment
Sometime in the Autumn of last year, I found myself reflecting on my life. I realized that I was living the same uninspired day every day. I was never trying anything new, never going anywhere new, and not even meeting new people anymore. I was trapped in a rut. I realize that so much of this is due to my work routine. The ennui of my repetitive work days bleeds into the rest of my life, and so even when I’m not at work, I lack the motivation, energy, or inspiration to pursue the things that make life exciting. It takes action to break out of a rut, and I was planted deep in comfort zone, even though I was not even slightly comfortable.
So last November, I came up with a fun idea. I realized that making a huge life change was a bit advanced, and I could start by making smaller changes. Little things to break me out of my complete routine and make life a little more exciting. So I came up with a fun idea. I called it “30 Days of New Things.” The idea is that I would do something new every day. I tried the idea almost immediately, but I only lasted a few days. It was hard to make a lasting change. By November, it was already dark outside and the weather was terrible. I barely lasted with this experiment, but I promised I would try it again int he Spring if I still felt in a rut.
Well here I am, it’s spring, and I am even deeper in a rut than ever, and more eager and itching to escape. I know from my past experience that between work stress, errands, and general life, it was almost impossible to do something new everyday. So this time I can’t commit to 30 days, but I could try it as long as possible. Even “1 Day of New” is one step forward out of my rut. So lets see how long this lasts!
Day 1 – Vertical Endeavors New Climbing Gym
Today was the beginning and I decided to visit a new climbing gym. For years, there had been a rock climbing gym less than ten minutes away from me. I had become spoiled by the 10 minute drive to rock climb. When they moved locations, I was a bit disgruntled. The new gym was more than half an hour away and I couldn’t justify going. It has been open for months, and people kept telling me to check it out, so I decided this would be an ideal activity to kick off my “Days of New” experiment.
My immediate thought upon arrival was how much bigger and more spacious it was than the old gym. There was relaxing music playing, and tons of walls to climb everywhere. Today was my first time climbing in a while, and so I was a bit slow, but we had fun anyway. The more routes we climbed, the more I realized that I had been unfair to the new gym, it was definitely awesome. I’ll definitely be back! I got to enjoy a new rock climbing wall, and climb with a friend I haven’t seen in a few months. Day 1 of New was a success!
Day 2 – Blackwell Forest Preserve South Entrance
So, it is only Day 2 of the experiment, and I am already struggling with wanting to quit. It is Sunday and I found myself very cranky and stressed about having to go to work tomorrow. It kind of poisoned my day to the point where I had no desire to go out at all, and was ready to quit the whole experiment.
I forced myself to overcome my bad mood and desire to hide from the world, and decided to check out a nearby forest preserve. As soon as I started walking and exploring I felt better. The singing of the birds and the wind blowing in the air made me feel relaxed. The sun on my skin in the warm 65 degree weather made me happy. I was happy that I could be outside finally after a long and cold winter. Walking in the shadow of majestic trees filled me with a calm. Suddenly I was present, in the moment, no longer panicking about work. Instead I was relaxed and centered. I was already glad I hadn’t stayed at home in a bad mood, just being out in nature has a healing and calming effect on me.
I explored and found an archery range! I found a great hill that people can tube down in the winter. There was a huge outdoor picnic party with a lot of people eating and socializing and enjoying the wonderful weather. It reminded me that while I am hiding out in my room, life is happening outside. As comfortable and lazy as I can get, it is important to break past my inertia and go experience the world. That was the whole point of this project, and it completely succeeded today. The sun was setting by the time I finally went home, and by that point my mood was completely improved. Today was a success.
Day 4: Local Deli For Lunch
Today was an easy one. I decided to check out a new place to eat today during Lunch at work. It was a place I have heard about for a couple years but never made time to try. Pretty good, I’ll probably go back.
Day 5: Cafe Arbor Vita
I found this place in Yelp. It was close to work, so I was excited to try it. It was very hidden, within a building that serves as a satellite site for a nearby college. But I found it and the food was delicious, as was the general atmosphere. I had fun on this one, trying to find this hidden cafe. It feels like I am unlocking secrets of the town, which is interesting because I had been so sure I had already found and seen all there is to see.
Day 6: The Comedy Shrine
So I had known about this place near me called “The Comedy Shrine” for a while, but had never bothered to go. I figured this would be a perfect chance to explore it. Their weekend shows are 20 bucks, but it is only five dollars for Thursday stand up comics. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this, and a series of intense thunderstorms and a tornado watch almost convinced me to
stay home, but I chose against it. I was actually excited about going here for once, and it was nice to not feel my usual resistance to activity, especially on a weeknight.
I was a little nervous walking in, but the moment I stepped in, I knew I had found something special. The people working there were all excited and enthusiastic, and everybody had a very high energy level. I bought a ticket and looked around, completely stunned at the level of decoration of this place. The walls were decorated from floor to ceiling with pictures, posters, and the most ridiculous amount of toys and action figures and models everywhere. My immediate impression of this place was that it was FUN.
And fun it was! I walked into the area, and one of the comics seated me at a table to the front. The atmosphere was very cozy and comfortable, it felt great. The show as an hour and a half, but it really flew by for me. There were three different performers and all of them made me laugh. Ordering drinks was fun too, as they had a toy that you switch on and it glows bright green, signaling the waitress to come.
By the time it was over, I had laughed plenty and was in a great mood. This place was a great find and I definitely look forward to coming back here again. They have all sorts of other acts, improv, even classes you can take.
I’m feeling a little less resistance to this project. It’s starting to feel like an adventure, to take a place I feel I know everything about, and then start exploring it with new eyes, and seeing all the new little places that I didn’t know about. I feel like I’m unlocking the town!
Day 7: Sensory Deprivation Tank
I will admit these are getting a bit more fun! After the success of the comedy club last night, I was definitely excited for today. I have wanted to try one of these since I was little, and I was pretty thrilled to finally find one close to me!
I felt an immediate sense of calm as I entered the building. The calm lighting, the peaceful music, the sound of water running from the nearby fountains set the moodearly. The receptionist greeted me warmly, had me fill out some wavers, and showed me how everything worked. She led me to the room and opened a door. There in front of me looked like a spaceship pod, with neon blue lights glowing from within and the sound of water bubbling.
I took a quick shower and hesitantly stepped inside. I put in the earplugs, which seemed to make me a bit more nervous. The water wasn’t too deep, but I felt a sense of discomfort as i reached to close the door to the tank. “Don’t worry it doesn’t lock,” she had said. And as I closed it, I quickly opened it back up to make sure I wouldn’t be trapped inside. It opened easily, so I felt relieved and closed it back up.
I laid back for a few moments and felt amazed as the 50 lbs of salt dissolved in the water floated me right to the top. I had never experienced this sensation and it was both eerie and amazing. I pressed the start button, a muffled voice through my earplugs said “Enjoy your float!” and then the lights went off. I was alone. I laid back again, and found myself having moments of dizziness as my body had never experienced floating like this, with no visual input to orient myself. It didn’t last too long and I spent a while just adjusting to the sensations. The floating was amazing, I gradually felt lifetimes of stress dissolve as my muscles could all completely relax in a way I had never experienced, with zero need to support themselves. I focused on my breathing, and tried to remain still and centered. If i started floating I would bump into one of the edges, so I minimized movement. The whole thing felt amazing.
I had always been hoping that being in a sensory deprivation float tank would completely unlock my brain and give me waking dreams. This did not quite happen. I stayed awake and alert, and focused on my breathing. There were moments when I could swear I was floating in outer space, surrounded by open universe, lifetimes removed from anything around me. The physical relaxation was far more than I had expected. Time seemed dilated more than I expected, and I thought an hour was much longer than it had been. Either way, it felt incredible to spend an hour doing nothing but focus on my breathing, center my thoughts, and completely relax physically and mentally as every sort of stress in my life fell away.
When the lights finally came on an hour later, I felt a bit groggy and disoriented. I laid in the water for a few minutes, reorienting myself to the visual world around me. Finally I gradually, slowly, made my way out. Everything that I did was in slow motion as I showered off the thick layer of salt that now covered my body. And by the time I was clean, dried off, dressed, and leaving, I realized that I was the most relaxed, physically and mentally, that I had been in a long time.
I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t completely unlock my consciousness the way I had always been told. But I’m ok with that, because the degree of relaxation and stress relief I gained from that experience was far more than I had ever expected. I’m glad I checked out this place. It is a bit pricy but the Groupon I got for two for the price of one made it worth it. I look forward to trying it again!
And on this note, I just completed a full week of this experiment! Each day is a challenge against my own laziness and inertia. Hopefully I will continue with this experiment.
Day 8: Waterfall Glen
Well, today has been a beautiful Saturday, 65 degrees. So it was a great day to go explore a forest preserve. I chose waterfall glen, a forest preserve i’ve been seeing for years, and always thought “I should go visit” but never did. It was about half an hour away, but since it is Saturday I had time to explore.
Initially I was disappointed. There was just one very large crushed limestone trail, and very few paths “off the beaten track”. I got a bit disappointed, especially as the trees cleared and most of it seemed to be high grasses. But this was my ignorance of how big the place actually is. I eventually realized i was just in a “prairie” region.
I discovered there was an actual waterfall in the 10 mile track area, and became determined to find it. As I journeyed on, the path became a bit more interesting, and eventually after an hour and a half of walking I made it to the Waterfall of Waterfall Glen. Now I was expecting a pretty big waterfall, and this thing was somewhat less than I had expected. But I sat by it anyway, and the peaceful sound of the rushing water as it crashed down the waterfall relaxed me to my core, and made the entire walk worth it.
I realize I had grossly underestimated the size of this forest preserve. There is so much more to explore, and maybe another day I will visit one of the different entrances and explore some different areas of the forest preserve.
Day 9: New Yoga Studio
Today was a nice Sunday, and I decided to check out a nearby Yoga studio that I have heard a lot of people recommend. I was going to go to an early class, and I slept in. I was pretty frustrated with myself for that, but fortunately there was another class afterwards. I was pretty excited to see myself actually doing this today after always thinking about it. I’ve noticed the cool thing about this experiment is that I’m doing all the things I wanted to try in the vague hypothetical future known as “Someday”
The Yoga class was good, the teacher was great and I felt very relaxed and centered afterwards. The coolest surprise was as I was walking out of class, I saw an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in almost a year. She was getting ready for the next class. It was great to see her and chat for a bit, and suddenly I no longer felt annoyed that I missed the earlier class. Maybe everything times out perfectly. I also found out that the first week is free, and so I didn’t have to pay for my class at all. Awesome! I should take advantage of it and try to go back for more free classes while I can. We’ll see if I find time though amongst all the other new things I need to do.
Day 10: Severe Weather Spotter Seminar
So this is something that has been recommended to me for a while. I love weather and learning more about severe weather sounds very interesting to me. Especially considering a huge tornado ripped apart a town nearby last week. This class was one of those things that I often thought “Oh yea, I should do that someday,” but never do. Even today I was considering blowing it off. It was almost an hour away and I was tired and just wanted to relax. The “Days Of New” experiment takes a lot of time and effort, and goes directly against my inherent laziness and inertia. But that is a big part of why I started doing this experiment, to start breaking the habit of laziness.
So I ended up going. It was cool, cause it was almost an hour north of me, in a town I had never been to. With each day I find a growing sense of excitement at the way my world is starting to open up and grow as I keep trying new things. This ended up being in a big auditorium in a high school. It was pretty interesting, I definitely learned some stuff I didn’t know, and got to watch some really awesome tornado videos.
Day 11: Vegan Vegetarian Restaurant
Today I was in a different town to feed my friend’s cats while she was out of town. It was gorgeous outside and I took the opportunity to check out a vegan vegetarian restaurant that I had heard about. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, but I love healthy natural food, so this was pretty fun. It was very crowded and I had to park kind of far way. Fortunately it was 70 degrees outside, and so I got to enjoy the walk and explore the downtown. I hadnever been here before so it was cool. The restaurant had a really nice atmosphere, though the food was a bit pricey. I guess that’s because Organic food is so expensive…. you have to pay extra if you don’t like eating pesticides with your food. Hmmm. I got to eat outside too, which really boosted my mood even more. A good day!