“Wow!” (one may think to himself while thinking about how great it’s gonna be to move to a hip city like San Francisco) “I’m so excited to start a new adventure in a cool city!”
And there’s nothing wrong with thinking that. True, San Francisco is an amazing city. There is a lot to love. I find the atmosphere especially scintillating because this is the first time I haven’t settled in a rural environment for about three years. Kinda a nice change of pace, though of course, there’s much to love about anywhere you are.
However, one of the biggest challenges, which I suppose I hadn’t fully anticipated was how isolated one can feel in a metropolis. And it’s been challenging for the last few days. What with moving, continuing a very new job, and starting another one as a manny (haha, that term still cracks me up.)
GAHH! I have lived in three different states (Illinois, New Mexico, California) since September and have held very different positions: farmer, student, corporate sales job, child-care. My head finally feels as if it’s about to stop spinning. Phew.
I have gone from being in school ALL the time to being by myself in my own place in a new city ALL the time. It has been supremely disorienting. When so much seems to change so quickly, it feels as if your very identity is on the line: “Who am I now?? What job do I have again? What does that mean?” If our identity shifted every time something external in our lives shifted, we would never have rest. And I haven’t for that very reason. I have felt incredibly stirred up, overwhelmed, and well…gasping for breath.
But tonight I am finally feeling settled. It’s a foreign and wonderful feeling. But really I fully expect it to become more normal. Why?
In talking to some wise friends and mentors and taking time to myself to listen and be receptive, I have begun to realize the power of focusing on what DOESN’T change as opposed to being wrapped up in what does.
The scenes and sands of life are constantly shifting. People, jobs, cars, houses, friends, pets, clothing, money comes and goes. Constantly. Human life is in itself a state of flux. It’s enough to make you go crazy if every new situation throws you for a loop. Especially when everything seems to be happening at once. I think that we can all agree that we’ve experienced that feeling in some degree at some point.
So what stays the same? Well, in order to answer that question you immediately have to get intangible. Because if all the stuff around us is eternally shifting in form, location, and proximity, then we’ve already agreed to play a game of cat and mouse if we try to hold onto that stuff. And you can’t win this game- this dance of chasing substanceless substance. From experience, it sucks you dry. It’s so exhausting. I still do it. But this most recent move has challenged me to rethink what’s constant in my life.
I have always gotten a smidge pissed off when I am clearly struggling and a well-meaning friend is like, “Well, honey dearest, why don’t you think of something you can be grateful for?” NO! I don’t want to! I have often shouted in my head. I’m sure I will silently utter that again at some point. But most recently, gratitude has been my lifeline in a sea I have not known how to navigate.
Gratitude, for me, has helped me identify what DOESN’T change. Sure the shape of my “home” has changed for me four times in the last three months, but isn’t it true that I have always had just what I need, when I needed it? A shelter (a beautiful and interesting one, at that) has always been there. I write to you now from my studio in San Francisco. It’s perfectly cozy, clean, comfortable, and filled with everything I need right now. I even got a table today (I had been sitting on the floor to eat). Great! It’s spare and I don’t have much but I don’t have more than I need nor am I lacking anything.
And money. Always a perennial headache, right? But, sure enough, I have always had just enough. When I left college to move to New Mexico I had just enough money for the plane ticket, my carry on, some food, and money for the shuttle. Literally had less than $100 left when I arrived. BUT I had just what I needed. And now I’m living off the savings I kept from my farming job. I know I will have what I need when I need it– not because I have buckets of money– but because I have faith in my experience with supply thus far. I have never been left without the means to be cared for in the right way.
And companionship. That’s what I’ve been struggling with the most with my most recent move. Where are all the people who want to be my friend?? But I do have two friends in the city and we’ve hung out several times and I talk to my family and friends all over the US. Thanks to the amazingness of technology I can stay amazingly connected. But isn’t it true that I’ve made amazing friends everywhere else I’ve lived in the US? Overwhelmingly, yes I have. What makes me think that won’t happen again? I mean, sheesh, give it time! (I keep telling myself that…but it’s true). I even joined the sweet family I nanny for in decorating their Xmas tree, sipping egg nog, and listening to Etta James. I felt completely welcome, warm and included. SEE!? Evidence. I have what I need. Gratitude helps me stay open to that in a big way.
In celebration, I walked down into Hayes Valley today and espied out a restaurant that appealed to me. Burgers. Feeling grateful for the beautiful weather, and frankly the mere sensation of not being freaked out and overwhelmed by another 180 degree shift into a new place, I took myself out to dinner.
Without feeling awkward about it, I walked right in and sat down at my table for one. It felt good to be ok with everything. Yeah, I still have worries and concerns swimming around but now I know I can apply the antidote of gratitude which reminds me, from experience, that no matter how challenging situations have appeared, I have always been delivered through them–cared for, supplied for, loved, and strengthened. That gives me a whole lotta confidence for all the stuff I still don’t know/worry about.
Yeah! Bring it on.