Setting Sail

Monday April 07th 2014, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Main

I hate change.

There is almost nothing about the upcoming weeks and months that will be in any way similar to what I have known the past few years. Until now I’ve had a stable job, a steady income, an apartment all to myself, a set of routines around exercise, shopping, preparing food, cleaning, and even my quiet time for recharging.

As of next week, I’ll be a guest in a crowded and vibrant home that’s often a whirlwind of activity and where there will be almost no privacy. Anything I do will necessarily be with other people in mind, balancing the need to stay out of the way with the need to be participatory as socially necessary.

For the foreseeable future I will have no income and no job, no structured time and no “direction.” Instead of operating on autopilot (if today is Tuesday I’ll be doing x,y, and z) I’ll need to begin by being spontaneous and flexible.

And a big issue on my mind is that I won’t be making the standard items that I have at each meal, since availability of cooking facilities and food storage space is by no means going to be certain. Let’s face it, you can’t be discreet about a late night snack of microwaved popcorn!

In the past when I have made major moves, I have always sought to minimize change. I have this image of myself on a rocking boat with a hammer in my hand which I’m using to try and nail down everything that I can, while the waves crash around me.


This time around, I know that it just can’t be like that. Even if I wanted to, there’s simply nothing about my life in Manhattan that can be replicated in a quiet little town on the peninsula.

That’s probably why when people ask me “Aren’t you excited about the move?” I don’t really have an answer. Because in fact, I’m kind of dreading it to the same degree I’m looking forward to it.

My practice during Lent has been to stop letting anxiety drive my decision-making. And I’ve been pretty successful about that. But I haven’t been quite as successful in lessening the amount of anxiety I feel every day. Worry has been my constant companion since childhood, so it’s not like I’m going to conquer that issue in 40 days.

For now, I’m visualizing what it would look like if I were to drop the hammer. Just let everything flow. See where the wind and the waves will take me.

It could be wonderful. Or horrible. I’m not sure.

Back in my get-your-shit-together days I read a wonderful book called “Don’t Push the River, It Flows By Itself.” Written by a therapist names Barry Stevens, it’s very zen and gestalt and buddhist-y, perhaps not up your alley at all. It’s also out of print, so there’s that. But I love the title and have carried that philosophy with me for decades. And that’s my advice to you: Don’t push the river.

Comment by Debbi 04.07.14 @ 2:19 pm

Debbi: Great thoughts — I appreciate this so much!

Comment by admin 04.07.14 @ 4:06 pm

I hope your heart swells with such happiness just being ‘home’ that all the other craziness is well, tolerable. Hopefully you can go on a few walks, see familiar comforts and find peace within the city so that it feels like you’re ‘home’ even though you don’t have one quite yet. I wish you lots of luck, peace and happiness on your exciting, terrifying journey. Don’t forget- you’re not crazy to move…you’re brave.

Comment by Jolene 04.07.14 @ 5:09 pm

Your journey is just
Beginning all the best
Always to you

Comment by Anonymous 04.08.14 @ 9:25 am

Jonathan, I have been sharing a house with a couple after my family left. I stayed to work my job while looking for another one several states away. I now have that job and am moving. People ask me if I’m excited, and of course I am, but I am also very stressed at the prospect of MORE upheaval! I totally get it, because I’m there too. I just try to focus on doing “the next thing” and let the big picture take care of itself. Big hugs.

Comment by neca 04.08.14 @ 10:22 am

There will be things you can do to give yourself a schedule (exercise).

Ask what you can do to help your hosts and that will help give you a schedule too. I had a person who was very handy stay with me once and it was truly wonderful the odds and ends he accomplished. Even if you are not handy, there are things like wall washing and garage sweeping that require no skill.

Signing up for temp agencies worked well for a friend, she ended up finding great job that way.

Substitute teaching has worked well for several people I know. In many areas you do not have to have a teaching certificate.

Get yourself on all the local email lists so you know what is going on (often for free) in your area. Lectures, exhibits, book groups, etc will put things on your calendar and get you out and about regularly. My husband and daughter volunteer at local theater which gets us free tickets. We go to many free events at local art museum. Local library system has wealth of free events. Etc.

Comment by Vickie 04.08.14 @ 12:02 pm

Great ideas! I’m not handy but certainly I can clean. As far as structure, I’m planning to spend one hour a day at the library job hunting — I’ve done this in the past and it’s a nice way to handle the seemingly overwhelming task of looking for work. Usually I go to different libraries to break it up a little and while I’m at each one I can check out community events, etc.

My very kind and generous friends actually live in a quiet little town about 20 miles outside of San Francisco, so I’ll probably spend a fair amount of time in my car and on the train going back and forth!

Comment by admin 04.08.14 @ 3:56 pm