I wrote this on my 43rd birthday after a day (and weeks prior) of packing doilies and pricing out Pinwheel crystal and crocheted tablecloths to sell for my mom.
She’s in her 80s and moving again. This time it’s a major downsize so we’re going through the treasures of her life determining what’s a keeper and what’s a musty must-not-keep.
It’s an emotionally dirty job, but someone’s got to do it, and since I’d already gone through this purge not long ago myself, who better to broker her task.
Up until a couple years ago, I’d had a successful career. In 20 years I worked what the typical 9-5 job employee accumulated in 45 years. Then I retired. Okay, retired might be stretching it. But I did quit my
day job career to pursue my passion—writing—with no prospects of a new, paying prose-related job.
Unfortunately, when we work like a demon for that long, sometimes we burn out instead of fade away. I burned out, man. Way. So I decided to turn a sabbatical into a full-time (possibly non-profitable) permanent new career.
I deemed writing as a hobby a job-ditching decision of ridiculousness. By calling it a fresh line of work I could fool myself, if no one else, into buying the idea that I was in a transitional time. A time that takes time to build up a following. Connections. Opportunities. Networks. Possibilities. Irons-in-the-fire? (Excuses?)
Fortunately, the small fortune I’d made wasn’t wasted only on shoes, surgery and travel. But just barely. I did manage to sock away some dough and build a positive cash-flow investment that supports me. Again, barely.
I mention this in the hopes of inspiring people to follow their dreams but act responsibly. I am single, have no dependents and can survive on the modest passive income I have IF I live within my means.
Part of my strategy (read: impulsive-no-regrets decision) was to sell everything I owned and live like a gypsy. After working all those years and etching out a certain lifestyle—as in predictable, even if stimulating and stressful—I needed to detach in a big way.
I sold my two year new dream home I’d had custom built and all the new furniture I’d bought for my every comfort and joy. I sold my SUV, my TV, my book of business.
Then I ran away. Not forever, but for long enough that a long overdue mental break might save me from certain mental breakdown.
Two years later—and a lot of couch-surfing and airbnb and Seattle and L.A. and Mexico and who am I? and what am I? and where am I happiest?—I’ve returned to my roots.
This brave little bird flew the coop to find the good life only to find a readiness to re-nest right here at home! But with a new title and attitude.
The top three things I un-loved about gypsy life:
- Detachment. Things have meaning because things have memories, people!
- People. Moving around constantly and traveling for long periods of time, I missed friends everywhere. The long standing friendships from home and the shiny, new ones from wherever my head hit the pillow if I stayed long enough.
- Uncertainty. Sitting with ambiguity gave me anxiety. It was uncomfortably unsettling. I needed to know what was around every corner and control it. Impossible, and…Insane!
The top three things I loved about gypsy life:
- Detachment. Things things things. Say it enough and one realizes: things are just things. Now I can appreciate a thing, feel the feeling of the memory, and still part with it if it’s not necessary. I don’t have much left to part with, which suits me fine, because most things aren’t essential. I can also write about a thing. My journals are keepsakes that can be filled with more than quirky thoughts and must-remember events and memories of things with no fear of its loss. The journal or the whatever. (That being said, I didn’t get rid of all my shoes!)
- People. I met amazing people, many of whom I consider good friends and who I plan on staying attached to. In a healthy way, of course, and only if that’s the natural course of life. I give credit to social media for helping keep these connections alive. But I know it takes more than a ‘like’ on FB for these nubile relationships to remain meaningful.
- Uncertainty. I’ve learned to not only live with it but to look forward to the surprises. Around every corner. That I don’t want to control. I still make plans and take action, but I roll with the waves better. Isn’t it interesting that anxiety and fear feel a lot like enthusiastic anticipation?
Having traversed enough, both geographically and spiritually, I have come full circle and now know how to combine the best of both worlds.
Nothing matters, no thing matters. People and relationships, most importantly the relationship we have with ourselves, do matter.
And there will always be uncertainty. That is the only certain thing we can count on.
Whether we choose to run away and be a clown or stay put in our home town, if we embrace change we can be sure of something: a relationship with peace.
My little mom isn’t ready to part with her Pinwheel, but does anyone need 10,000 packages of restaurant condiments? ;)
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Editor: Travis May
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