I'm already bored with the recession, the one billed constantly as "the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression," so I'm developing strategies to deal with it. As we've been conditioned, things are much more fun when the economy is hopping, when the advertising industry's creation of false consumer desires actually works. When what is still known as Madison Avenue works well, I want to try that new hot restaurant in the East Village or that amazing skin cream for sale at Bloomingdale's. I'll want to get out and see the hot shows and all the general trendiness. But when it's not working, like now, I sometimes find myself in a store on the verge of making a purchase but then return the item to the shelf and then sulk home. This consumer paralysis is completely boring, but it's teaching me to distinguish once again between want and need.
It's tiresome to read words like "shuttered" and "empty" to signify buildings and restaurants that once enjoyed the labels of "trendy" or "hot." But who would use "trendy" now, except to describe the previously uncharted territory known as the New York apartment kitchen? In today's New York, like elsewhere, the grocery stores are more crowded than usual because people feel the need to save money by cooking at home. That's a pity, because my inner chef is not as talented as those cooking in our city's restaurants.
When I start feeling anxious, I walk, and the more I keep walking somewhere or anywhere the dark clouds start to lift. I can safely assert that many recent studies show a strong correlation between walking and the improvement of mood and self-esteem. I know from my own experience walking the streets of New York that this is true. I have never once regretted any spur of the moment decision to explore a new neighborhood, visit a museum, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, discover a new cafe, or find a new path in Central Park.
After I take the long walks, the ones with the most steps (and this activity can be taken metaphorically as well), I find that I'm less afraid, less bothered by current events and more willing to take chances. I listen less to Madison Avenue, or Wall Street for that matter, and more to my own music. And, strangely enough, I'm content with what I already have, but I'm also ready to spend a little.
Image: Aboard the 6 Train, by Walking Off the Big Apple.