I have a confession. I wrote this post last week, but the topic frightened me so much that I couldn’t publish it.
For the last few months, I’ve been thinking about making some major changes. I’ve been reading quite a few books like What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life by James Hollis and most recently Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion by Gregg Levoy. I’ve also been hopscotching across the internet machine and reading lots of blog posts by and about other people wrestling with the same issue (like this one).
Every time I found a new book, post or magazine article, it reminded me of a long ago promise I made to myself that I’d never allow myself to stagnate. When I read Walden at 12 or 13 years old, one of the quotes that pierced my heart was “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” At that age, I didn’t know exactly what it meant, but I had a good idea. Most of the adults around me were not unhappy, but they weren’t happy either. They just existed. Work, home, work, home, maybe a vacation once in a while, otherwise rinse and repeat year after year. And I knew that I never wanted to be like that. I wanted to be able to look back and know that I lived well and fully.
Over time, I’ve been able to create more passion and adventure in my day to day life, but I still feel like I’m limiting myself in some ways and I want to change that. I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the kind of lifestyle I want and what I need to do to get it.
What does all this have to do with my unpublished post? Well what scared me was the finality of putting my decisions out into the world. It’s one thing to tell your plans to family and a few friends, but somehow writing it here made it feel like I was crossing the Rubicon – and that completely freaked me out.
So here’s what I decided: 1) to leave New York; and 2) to switch careers, all within the next two years. I’m still processing my decisions because of the enormity of those changes; particularly leaving the city I call home.
I never thought I’d ever even consider leaving NY. But I feel a dissatisfaction – a restlessness – that’s like a low grade fever. Overall, I have a great life here and most days I wake up thrilled to live in such an amazing, wonderful city. But I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I could be just as thrilled waking up somewhere else.
First I have to decide where I’d like to live. Right now, I’m considering five cities – some overseas – but I need to narrow it down to three so I can start researching the details. I only have
two three requirements for my new home: it has to be in a warmish climate and it has to be near water and it has to have or at least be near a fast internet connection.
And maybe the word “change” is too strong; it’s more like adding another tool to my toolbox. Emilie Wapnick did a TEDx talk – “Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling” – which finally gave a name to what I am: a multipotentialite. When I heard her talk, it was like the skies parted and suddenly things made sense. All my life, I’ve been told I had to choose one skill or career, but I found it impossible because I have so many interests and whenever I find something I like, I completely immerse myself in it – at least until I find the next big thing.
Anyhow, whenever I have to work through something serious, I try to spend as much time as I can in nature because that’s where I do my best thinking. Last week, we had two unseasonably warm days so I took full advantage. On the second day, I went to one of my favorite places, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.
I sat under this tree and listened to music, read, and did some writing. Afterwards, I felt so much clearer about what I need to do.
I might not have all the answers yet, but I’m willing to take the first step and for right now, that’s enough.