Somewhat cryptically, my theme for June is “Eat a peach.” I took the phrase from T. S. Eliot’s poem, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”:
I grow old…I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I may be misappropriating the quote, but I know what “Eat a peach” means for me. Even though one of my main goals for the Happiness Project is “Be Gretchen,” I want to push myself, to eat a peach, to outgrow the accidental limitations of my nature.
On June 2, I talked about my desire to overcome my fear of driving. That’s part of “Eat a peach.”
Another challenge is to get over my aversion to conducting interviews. Following my rule of identify the problem, I realized that a big part of this reluctance came from a fear that I don’t know the proper procedures, that I’d seem unprofessional.
So I’ve set up times to have coffee with friends who do interviews regularly, to ask them exactly how to do it. And I’ve ordered a recorder and a transcriber, so I have the proper tools. And then the next step will be to begin interviewing people.
But also, just as “eat a peach” means challenging myself to overcome my fears, it means that I should challenge myself to embrace everyday pleasures.
For instance, on a recent visit to New York from Kansas City, my mother remarked, “I love walking down the streets and seeing all the flowers in front of the little delis.” Well, I’d never given any thought to noticing the flowers along the sidewalk. Now I remind myself to notice the flowers outside the shops as well as the flowers planted up and down Park Avenue.
Likitsakos, the gourmet shop around the corner from my apartment, keeps its fruits and vegetables displayed in baskets along the sidewalk. Instead of walking by, oblivious, I now take a moment to register the beauty of the fruits’ colors and fragrance. Maybe today I’ll stop to buy a peach.