This entry is part of my year-end, month-long Reverb 11 blogging project, where I reflect on my year in a series of daily blog posts.
I made a few major decisions this year. That sounds much more dramatic than it was, though. It’s not like I spirited myself away into seclusion, then emerged out the dark and announced in a big Dramatic Movie Narrator voice, “I HAVE DECIDED!” (Although that would be rather fun to do once in my life, I admit.)
Some of my decisions crept up on me. Like my choice to not go back to New York. I had been working on a consulting gig that took me often to the West Coast, and soon it was just easier to hang out with my family near Chicago. (It was also a lot easier to deal with the constant flying as well.) I kept putting off putting off finding a permanent place back in New York, content to sublet for awhile “till I got my bearings.” And then I realized, slowly, I didn’t want to get my bearings back to New York. I was happy being back in Illinois. I felt a kind of rare peace and serenity; I also really, really appreciated how much less expensive it was for me to not to live in New York, and what possibilities opened up for me by saving money. (Very few people I know in NYC are actually able to save money, unless they are 1. high-functioning professionals and 2. married.) So, slowly, that decision made itself when I realized that my inner compass as a person had shifted; it just took me some time for it to come to consciousness, I suppose.
The other major decision I made this year was to stop doing web development on a client/for-hire basis. It had been a godsend during film school, when I could do it as a lucrative side gig to school. And before, when I lived in San Francisco, I was fortunate enough to land gigs that were essentially part-time, steady work, so I could spend 20 hours a week doing web stuff and the other part of my week writing, exploring, traveling. (God, my life in San Francisco…I did not appreciate how idyllic and rich it was until now!) I thought I would continue on this track, but trying to shift it into full-time work made me realize that it was NOT how I wanted to spend 40, 60 hours a week. It didn’t bring me a sense of growth and positive challenge anymore; I felt bored and irritated doing it all the time. It paid well enough but just drained my soul, and the idea of constantly chasing down work when I was trying to write a novel was just too much to manage. Finally, as fall loomed in the horizon, I decided to stop doing it at all. And I haven’t looked back since; it was something I should’ve done ages ago. It added so much more balance to my life, and helped me recover my equilibrium. And then, when that equilibrium was challenged by my dad’s illness, not having it on my plate was a relief.
Now, I look at things in my life and ask, “What can I stop doing that isn’t serving me anymore?” It’s amazing what pulls and drags on your life, everything from those small, minor things that you put up with (ugh, e-mail newsletters) to major weights (jobs, gigs that don’t speak to you in some way). I’d like to be more decisive about realizing that things ARE a drag, and more proactive about finding ways to cut them out or lessening their drag. If you want to achieve any kind of momentum or velocity in life, it’s worth looking at what you can unload in your life — because stopping them frees up so much more space for something really good to come into your life.