The Pursuit of Happiness (and Health) in Portland

Homing in on what it means to live the good life in the City of Roses.

By Zach Dundas July 13, 2015 Published in the Health Annual: Summer 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

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Photographs (clockwise from top left): by Isaac Lane Koval (2); courtesy Justin Bailie; courtesy Hush Meditation; courtesy Loprinzi’s; courtesy Portland Parks and Recreation; courtesy Stuart Mullenberg

I admit I was not thinking about Portland Monthly’s Health Annual when I smashed headlong into a rival soccer team’s goalkeeper, a collision that left me writhing like a beached fish, gasping for air and nursing a bruised rib. (Merely a flesh wound! The other guy was fine.)

Nor did I have this special issue in mind as I lumbered around a Nordic loop, like the 40-year-old, Subaru-driving dad I am, on the one day my family hit the mountain during 2015’s epically awful ski season. And I wasn’t exactly “editing” as I forced myself through one of those phone-app “seven-minute workouts” at 6 o’clock this morning, bobbling around my basement in my pajamas. 

But in every instance—and also that one time, when I tried soy curls—I was in tune with the spirit of this issue. In our Health Annual, we try to capture and reflect how Portlanders, specifically, pursue “wellness.” (Or, as we call one of this magazine’s sections, “Balance”) Here in Portland, we don’t trend-hop quite as nuttily as gym-beholden New Yorkers, or juice-flush toxins quite as neurotically as our beautiful friends in Los Angeles. We tend to look askance at the latest alarming national obesity statistic, but we’re not, like, Boulder or anything. We have lives, and new beers to try.

What we do is lots of stuff. And we try to have fun doing it. Our interests are broad and our appetite for activity is not stifled by too much worry about how we look. We’re fascinated by the latest breakthroughs from our fast-growing science sector. But we’re very open to a dose of Left Coasty woo-woo, settling in for mindfulness sessions and planting our own yarrow with the earnestness of medieval monks. Our embrace of the SCOBY shows that we’ll consume just about anything if it’ll boost our body’s vital systems. And, of course, we tend to think a splash in a river or ocean or a wander in the mountains or the best local food is just as important to mind and body as anything our physicians might prescribe.

We stay on the move. That’s really the most important thing. Even if our efforts are humble—as mine certainly are—we chase the promise of health and happiness with a cheerful relentlessness and a game willingness to try anything. Well, OK: I’m not going anywhere near ultrarunning, but you get the point. 

Zach Dundas
Executive Editor

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