Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Looking for the New Normal

Life lately has been fairly mellow, pretty regular, a most enjoyable normal. I have spent time working, applying, visiting, and taking in the Catskills (yes! I did make it up to my mountain town for a bit!). Among  all of the hustle and bustle of ordinary life, I have been trying to figure out what it is I would like my new normal to be. I am happy where I am, but I could be happier. I love my family and I love spending time with them, but I crave my independence and privacy again. I can't complain about spending my time cuddling a sweet little infant, but I crave a job where my impact is greater, and my days are a bit shorter. I love going to school, but I crave the time I need to immerse myself in it. I am looking for that rewarding job, a balance between work and play, and a little-well- quiet time.

Life has been a comfortable normal for a while now, and normal is a wonderful thing to have. But I am beyond ready for my normal to change, to shift into a different place. The sneezeweed is blooming this time of year you know.

Upon graduating from college the feeling that I can do anything, for the first time ever, was seriously daunting. Anything is an impossibly powerful word that I didn't quite know how to take on. So I did what I do best, I dreamt big. I thought maybe I will find my new normal in an exotic place. Maybe my new normal will take me to other oceans, other cities, other passions. Maybe my new normal would be a Brooklyn loft and late night subway rides. Maybe my new normal would be a California bungalow and an Americorps project. Maybe my new normal would be an apartment in a soul-filled Tennessean city and afternoons listening to the blues and eating barbecue. I felt like a child who dreams about being a farmer, a doctor, and a world traveler at once (which was exactly what I was convinced I would be, thank you very much), but this time it was real, and right in front of me. So I did the other thing that I do best, I procrastinated. I told myself that things were a just fine normal the way they are. That the right normal would find me. And well, that didn't work too well. I was so overwhelmed with the feeling that I needed to do it all right now, that now was the only time in my life that I would get the chance to live in these places and have these experiences. So I chose not to choose, and just keep on dreaming.

Parents telling their little children "you can be anything when you grow up" is a wonderfully important and powerful part of childhood, but I think kids miss the memo: at some point, you have to boil anything down to something. Just like you can't have farmer, doctor, and traveler at the exact same moment without going insane, you also can't have Brooklyn loft, California bungalow, and Tennessee apartment at once either. But like I said, I am good at dreaming big. So in all of my efforts to decide what my new normal should be, my effort to boil the anything into a something failed miserably. So I fell back into the question that perhaps should be the ultimate fall back question: what will make me most happy, right now? And you know what, my answer surprised me. Right now, I don't want the loft or the bungalow or the apartment. Sure, I'd love to have all of these someday but that day isn't today. Today I want the Catskills. I decided that while at some point in my life I would love to experience life in all of these faraway places, its okay if that time isn't now. I will get there. But now, I feel like my time isn't done here, in New York. I feel like I want to make my way back up to the mountains I love and explore the life that I could have there.

Now that I finally have my something figured out, I just need to figure out how to get there. And I am working on it. It may not happen right now, or tomorrow, or even this year. I still need to find the job, the home, the life i'll have there. But at least I am not thinking anything anymore. I've got my whole life for anything, right now I just need to get to my something of the moment. And what a beautiful something it is.

Please don't get me wrong, I have not given up on dreaming. The loft, the bungalow, and the apartment are all still swirling around in my mind. And while I have given up on being a doctor- farmer and traveler are still very much on my anything list.

Once a dreamy sneezeweed, always a dreamy sneezeweed.

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Thanks for taking some time to smell the sneezeweed!