Chief among the pitfalls of blogging is believing that each post must be focused, insightful, and uplifting.
Well, screw that—at least for this morning. Today I just need to share what’s on my mind without worrying overly much about its presentability. Today I am mired in second-guessing, cluelessness, and impatience.
To continue the stream of thought begun in last week’s Four-month Checkup, I find myself quite busy and quickly plugged in to some very good things here in Austin: Clearview Sudbury School, the Austin Zen Center, and both ensembles of Chorus Austin. Yet as early as I might be in the process, it’s frustrating how elusive a feeling of having arrived, of being settled and at home, is proving to be.
It doesn’t help when hearing news of my school and choir back in Colorado make me wonder if I made the right decision in coming here; whether my undeniable need to shake things up in my life required this particular, 900-mile shakeup. It also doesn’t help that I can’t write this without worrying what others will think of my expressing this doubt so publicly.
But this blog is, if nothing else, about chronicling one man’s quest for a “viable life of mindfulness and creativity,” to quote my tag line. And honest reporting of this quest requires sharing the anxiety as well as the exhilaration.
Speaking of honesty, there are plenty of ups as well as downs. Tearing myself away from the familiar and the relatively safe was undoubtedly a good thing, as it’s opened up new opportunities and introduced new people into my life. I have to remember that if I hadn’t made some serious changes, I would still be feeling restless and, in an important sense, stuck.
On the contrary, putting myself into a situation where I feel adrift and clueless may well turn out to be the best thing I could have done. To the extent that this is difficult, perhaps those are growing pains.
There are so many things I don’t know, yet need to learn. For example, I don’t know how to build up a nonprofit that’s essentially a niche (of collaboration without control) within a niche (of Sudbury schooling). I don’t know how to generate a sustainable income from blogging and freelance consulting. And I don’t know how to accept that this process will develop mostly on its terms, at its own pace.
I don’t know whether I’m too busy with things that don’t pay (i.e., basically all the things I currently enjoy doing, including this blog), and whether I should scale back my involvement in them. I don’t know whether I should focus full-time on CASE while I can afford to, or whether I should start building my freelancing portfolio.
Above all, I don’t know how much to create and follow some kind of plan for all this versus going about it more spontaneously, adjusting on the fly as intuition suggests. While I really like the idea of a schedule mapping my expenses against my savings, charting a course through the above questions, I doubt how realistic or accurate any such plan could be. Yet while I’m not about to run out of money, it’s high time I got a clearer sense of moving toward something, whatever that something is.
As I mentioned in the Checkup post, it’s really tough not knowing most of the time whether I’m wasting time, investing in future work opportunities, working on myself or simply living the life I want. It’s extremely frustrating how elusive a sense of place and direction continue to be. At times I’ve told people who were “between jobs” to enjoy as much as possible the unusual amount of downtime. As with much advice, this is of course much easier to give than to follow.
Another piece of pseudo-advice I’m having to own up to lately is my recent refrain that, increasingly, I’m finding it harder to believe in the concept of the mistake. The idea is that while of course your shouldn’t be negligent or fail to do due diligence, your decisions can only be so informed. Consider and prepare for various contingencies, sure, but at some point, you just have to leap.
So now I’ve leaped. Was it a mistake? Perhaps I should heed my own lesson and be as mindful as possible—watching, listening, and trusting, allowing myself the broad margins in which the answers can emerge.
If you have advice on how to determine whether this is my new home or merely a pause in the journey, how to get involved without overcommitting, or how to go about learning to craft a life of one’s own, by all means, don’t keep that knowledge to yourself! I started this blog understanding that I can’t achieve the dream it represents and recounts without the input and support of others. It would be truly wonderful blog grew beyond the confines of my personal story and became a resource for people wishing to build more authentic, sustainable lives.
Yes, that much I know.