It’s been a little over a year since I stopped writing for QSaltLake regularly. I thought it might be time to check in.
I’ve been living in New York City for about seven months now. I thought I’d have been living out here for about a year at this point. My timeline was off, but whose isn’t?
The night before I moved my Dad sat down with me and said, “If you get there, and you don’t like it, you can come home.” I was pretty sure, even then, that I would like it. But his words made me realize on a new level the value of the safety nets in my life: I’ve learned that having a safety net in life does not prevent injury when you fall — it simply provides you with a safe place to land. And I become ever increasingly grateful for those people who are my safety nets. Sometimes all you have to do to be someone’s safety net is answer your phone and listen while they tell you about the horrible night they just had.
New York is the size and scope of a big city that makes it possible for everything you’ve ever heard about it to be true. And I mean the good and the bad things you’ve heard about it. What I think makes New York such a truly magnificent place is that the majority of people who are here, either to live or visit, have chosen to be here. It’s a place on the planet where very few people just passively arrived. New York is a collection of tourists, residents and visitors who have made an active choice to experience this spot on the planet. The energy that comes from those choices is what makes New York City breathe. And, yes, sometimes New York City has morning breath, but more often it’s like the city just gargled with wintergreen Listerine.
When I was home for Christmas my family kept asking me what fun things I’d been up to since moving. I’m afraid I didn’t have anything exceptional to report. I was still trying to settle in and adjust to a new career in a new city. But I was finding joy and fun in rather monotonous things. Navigating the streets of SoHo as I searched for the salon where I was going to get my haircut was one example of something that was fun to me in those early weeks. I frequently find myself standing on street corners looking around and being overwhelmed with how happy I am to be living here. But it’s more than just living in New York that brings me a sense of joy; it’s that I’m fulfilling several of my life-dreams by being here.
Picking up my life and moving across the country from Salt Lake to New York was an ambitious undertaking for me. And because I have the unhealthy tendency to always try and present my strongest and most together self to the world, I think it’s important for me to say that there were times when I felt so overwhelmed and alone that I comforted myself with the knowledge that I could step on a plane and go home to my friends and my family whenever I wanted. But, in fact, that knowledge is exactly what gave me the strength to stay. It didn’t make the loneliness or doubt go away, but it helped me to bear myself up beneath them.
There were some exceptionally disappointing and isolating times in those first three months. There are still disappointing and lonely times. In the beginning, before I really felt like I’d even somewhat settled, those times shook me in a very deep way. But anything that shakes you from the inside out will either affirm you or suggest that you alter your path. Knowing that you should alter your path is just as valuable as being affirmed in your decisions.
All great experiences in my life have been harder than I thought they would be. Often, they’ve knocked me off my feet and sent me crashing to the ground. That hurts, and sometimes it makes me cry. But after the tears stop and I lie there for a little while I always feel a little bit better. And if the reason I’ve done something and my subsequent choices after doing it were sound, then I’ve always found the strength to get back up and keep moving forward. But my forward trajectory isn’t quite the same. I always see my true north with greater clarity.
I’m writing this column just after an experience that sent me crashing to the ground, so I apologize if it’s a bit too somber or serious. But despite the ache that I am currently feeling (or maybe because of it), I am still content to be exactly where I am. I believe that a life worth living is filled with every emotion. And sometimes the enjoyable emotions don’t even come more frequently than the unpleasant ones, but they always outweigh them.
Whatever your ambition, I hope you will seek it. Because even if you don’t find what you seek, I believe you will find something even more worthwhile. And that’s to say nothing of the incredible journey.
As Mark Twain said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”