The Key to Happiness

“Uno burrito pollo, por favor… para llevar”. I take a seat at the counter, placing my order in halting Spanish, knowing that in mere days I will once again be leaving the tourist hot spot of Puerto Vallarta to head away from the land of the gringo. Luckily, I have been here before, and the nice waitress takes pity on me and responds in English , “we have no chicken. You want pork?”. Si, I will take pork.


As I await for my order, I gaze at the scene around me, vaguely wishing they had chicken. I sipped my ice cold Corona, enjoying the cool feel down my throat in the melting, mid-day, humidity. It suddenly hits me how far I’m come from my type-A, cold climate personality of old. While I had been craving the idea of their chicken burrito, I was okay with pork too.

Our apartment has, shall we say, a multitude of issues. An electrical socket hanging out of the wall, tiles missing from the bathroom wall, a mostly exposed wall in the bedroom with the wiring in full view from our a/c fire that resulted in a blackened wall and emergency repair.  And that promised cable box never did make an appearance. While more on that will come, it is what it is.. Our property manager is great, working with what she can, but the owners are simply not people who should own rental properties.


In another time, in another place, these things would have had a more profound impression on my pysche. Travel, once again, has been the greatest teacher. This tiny life we now lead has shown us, more clearly than a mirror, exactly what we need, and what we no longer miss in our lives.

Possessions mean far less. Friendships and family mean more. In our old life, it was so easy to feel it necessary to get whatever you wanted, when you wanted it. Food, a major driving force in these foodies life, was nearly open ended. Portland was a magnificent city of nearly any ethnic food imaginable. If we wanted Thai or Chinese or Laotian or Ethiopian or German, it was readily available any day of the week.

Now, not so much. Cravings take a backseat to what is available. Wants make way for needs. The scaled down simplicity of our lives is inspiring and refreshing.


Don’t get me wrong. Tonight I would pay big money for a really great Indian meal. This is not going to happen. And so, I’ll make spaghetti. Or we’ll get some street tacos. Or we’ll just go out and wander and see what we find. Whatever that something is, we will be grateful that we have the ability to make these simple choices.

Gone are the days in which we had the money, and goods at our disposal, to pick and choose according to our whims. Here now are the days focused on doing good work we’re passionate about, on long walks on the beach watching Aspen search for the perfect fetching coconut, and of taking the time to appreciate every single sunrise and sunset. Simplicity squared.

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4 thoughts on “The Key to Happiness

  1. Good for you. Making do with simpler amenities… takes courage to see what matters. The intense labor ing of these Mexican people. Their cheerful acceptance to make do with what’s available is to create an improvised lifestyle that serves as a teachable moment, instead of tapping into entitlement…creates understanding that life is not an easy journey for many many people…
    I never saw so many smiles as were freely given to me in …mexico.

    • Thanks Susanna…. I won’t say we never get a little cranky when we have been desiring something and it’s not available, but absolutely an excellent teaching moment on the definition of need versus want.

  2. I love this sentiment:

    “Cravings take a backseat to what is available. Wants make way for needs. The scaled down simplicity of our lives is inspiring and refreshing.”

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