I’ve got a lot of things swirling in my head lately. Three weeks of downtime in Montana – where the area is utterly familiar (and beautiful) and the weather has discouraged me from wanting to go out – I’ve been evaluating my nine months on the road and what I want for the immediate future.
I’m not coming up with any good answers. I’m thinking about things like going back to work full-time or going back to work part-time so I can go back to school. Searching job openings in cities I’ve never been to.
It’s mostly just a mental exercise… a reminder that I really can do what I want, which means not traveling, if that’s what I decide. Nine months of travel is making it feel like a chore, when it was supposed to be a joy. Not enough time to myself means I’m moody and not always pleasant to the people around me.
These were my choices. Which means I can choose something new tomorrow. I don’t know why it’s so easy to forget that, but it is. Everyone I know does it, either occasionally or all the damned time. Some people even deny they ever had a choice (those people I mostly choose not to spend time with).
My biggest challenge this year has been choosing to spend money. It’s the biggest reason I haven’t spent enough time alone. Being alone almost always means spending money on lodging – the most expensive piece of most travel budgets. Yes, there are ways to save on the cost, and I’ve used them, but it’s hard to beat FREE, which is what it costs to stay with friends.
But I had seriously underestimated how living completely alone for five years had fed my love of solitude, making it even more important to my emotional well-being. Ask anyone I’ve stayed with this year, my favorite thing is to wake up in an empty house.
My lack of awareness, and later my denial of this need to be alone, means in the choice between saving money or saving sanity, I chose to save money. But that choice is no longer sustainable, so I must make new choices.
I don’t know what that looks like yet. Right now I have another opportunity to fill up my savings account, so that means I’ll be in Portland for longer than expected. Most of my mental swirling has been shifting from ‘how do I save money?’ to ‘how can I make more money?’
I know one thing. I’ve spent many years now trying to follow my heart, the voice in my head, the pull that tells me what I really want and what I can do. And every single time I’ve listened hard and believed that what I wanted was attainable, the fates have dropped that shit right in my lap. Jobs, career changes, housing, friends, travel. When my heart and mind would both give a big YES to a risk I was taking, it would all turn out even better than I’d hoped.
And on the flip side, every time I’ve ignored the big NO that comes with a bad choice, I’ve regretted it. I’ve spent years and tears trying to get back to a YES. I really have gotten much better at hearing that NO, I can tell you.
But you get busy with the day to day crap, and you forget to check back in with that YES and see if it’s still there. Make sure you haven’t wandered off, following shiny things, and lost track of what you were doing. To make sure that it’s not been fulfilled and time to find the next one.
So I’m looking for the next big YES. And looking forward to what will come my way.