Want Motivation? Walk Through Your Neighborhood
Take a leisurely walk down your street the next time you feel bored, tired, or not even sure how you feel. With just a sprinkle of gratitude in your heart, you will be amazed at the motivational ideas you receive from some neighborhood fixtures you have been taking for granted.
Seven such objects are listed here in alphabetical order, not in order of importance because their messages are equal in significance. You will find yourself adding to the list after you consider these.
Build cul-de-sacs where . . . more people may watch out for each other, and feel less alone or alienated. - Thomas R. Hochschild Jr. (Sociologist)
The literal translation of the French term is bottom of the bag; and in the English language it translates as dead end. However, in the neighborhood there is a live benefit to the dead end. Because families on the cul-de-sac can go nowhere else, they go to each other.
Thomas R. Hochschild Jr. who studies and promotes cul-de-sacs found “families who watched each others' children and took in each others' mail, who barbequed and orchestrated the removal of snow together, and who considered each other close friends. In cul-de-sacs, these families had a stronger sense of shared social space and territoriality. An outsider stood out.”1
(2) Empty House
An empty house is like a stray dog or a body from which life has departed. – Samuel Butler
That house used to be occupied until circumstances—good or bad, caused the previous residents to vacate. Now, it is an unwelcome sight, partly because of the fears and insecurities of those who are wondering:
- Will its appearance be maintained or will it become dilapidated and decrease the value of the neighborhood?
- What if the next person who moves in is a criminal?
- If I have to vacate my house, will I be moving on up or down?
The house is oblivious to your fears, your judgments of your predictions; if you wait long enough, you will see it become a residence for new life.
Good fences make good neighbors. - Robert Frost
No matter how loving neighbors are, they crave respect for themselves and their belongings. The fence reminds everyone to observe the boundaries around their property; and it also gives them a sense of privacy. It is the responsibility of homeowners to maintain their own boundaries.
Every intersection has a story. – Katherine Dunn
If you walk far enough, you will come to an intersection where two or more streets meet. Whether you make a turn, or cross over the adjoining street, depends on the direction you want to pursue; but having options may rouse your curiosity.
If there are other people at the intersection, you may consult with them; if not, you still have to move. You know that after you cross over or make your turn, you can always change your mind and retrace your steps. You’re sure to see something new.
The true object of all human life is play. – Gilbert K. Chesterton
The playground is accessible to all neighborhood residents. No private fences. Children and accompanying adults gather for social interaction. Cursed be those human-demons who go there looking for prey! Security will increase and play will continue, because it is a necessary part of life.
In some neighborhoods, the playground is just a clearing on an empty lot. It is more than the presence or absence of equipment. It is about playing together and fostering community spirit. You feel joy just by watching the children play.
We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. – Abraham Lincoln
Can you imagine a neighborhood without flowers? When it comes to the rosebush, an Alice Walker adaptation from the color purple seems in order: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by a rosebush in a neighborhood and don't notice it.”
The rose on the rosebush is so fragile and minute, yet its beauty quickly draws your attention to the details of its form and color. You cannot help but admire the rosebush—and the neighbor who plants it.
However, if you think you can grab it and run, think again. Those thorns will get you!
There is a place where the sidewalk ends. - Shel Silverstein
This sidewalk quote is from the poem, Where the Sidewalk Ends2 by Shel Silverstein. The first two lines are:
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And where the street begins.
The sidewalk is your safe place. You can be more relaxed than if walking on the street. When the sidewalk ends, you have to compete with vehicles for space.
The last two lines of Silverstein’s poem reads:
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.
The poet points us to the wisdom of the children who are sidewalk-smart. They consider it an extension of the play area in their private yards. But what do they do at the place where it ends? The smart ones retreat to their safe place.
What do you think of your neighborhood?
Have you already thought of neighborhood objects you can add to this list? Take your time. Be motivated the next time you walk through your neighborhood!