Two weeks since my last post (mea culpa), a year and two weeks since I launched this blog, perhaps it’s time for a checkup—for the blog and, more generally, my quest for a “viable life of creativity and mindfulness.”
The State of the Blog can be dispatched fairly quickly with a few statistics: 113 posts, a total of 5768 views, 27 followers (not counting 9 following various comment threads). While I have no sense of these numbers’ significance, at least I’ve been putting something out there twice a week on average (if one includes posts consisting mostly, or entirely, of other people’s words).
In assessing the status of my quest, however, I’m unsure where to begin, or where to go from there. Actually, the starting point seems clear enough: I recently relocated for the second time in just under a year, returning from Austin to the Denver area (hence the two-week gap in posting).
Yet I’m somewhat at a loss in explaining this move to you, as I scarcely understand it myself. Why return so quickly to the place I was relatively sure, a year ago, I had to leave? Why leave Austin after eleven months (surely too soon to have fully plumbed its potential as a home base, and right as I was just beginning to form strong attachments to my new friends at the Austin Zen Center, Chorus Austin, and Clearview Sudbury School)? Even after fielding such questions several times, my answers seem incomplete and unpolished.
On one level, just as when I left Colorado last year, I knew I needed to shake things up. I went to Austin to craft a new life, yet quickly found myself gravitating toward familiar routines of school and choir, introducing an active Zen practice to replace the hours of commuting I’d left behind. How remarkably easy it proved to seek refuge in busyness; how difficult to avoid overextending myself and neglecting the very nonprofit for whose sake I’d drastically rearranged my life (i.e., CASE, the Center for Advancing Sudbury Education).
And so, for all the changes made, I found myself in a life remarkably similar to the one I’d vowed to reinvent, having given up over a dozen years’ of Colorado connections for…what?
Yet even that inertia, frustrating as it was, wouldn’t have been enough for me to pull the trigger on this latest reshuffling. In the end, it came down to my hunch that Denver, and Alpine Valley School, represent a better base of operations for CASE, at least for the time being. This seemed especially true after an AVS colleague and friend set me up with a cheap and comfortably cozy apartment 1.5 miles from the school (and even closer to a green belt). Here, I think, there will be less temptation to become involved in school work to the detriment of my Sudbury nonprofit; here the financial pressures are reduced; here I face only a fraction of the driving that was a significant factor in my leaving a year ago.
Yet here as well the questions persist and pile up. First and foremost: how am I going to make ends meet, much less thrive financially? Part-time work at the school isn’t going to cover it, and I have a lot to do in developing CASE before I can expect it to start paying for itself. Will I be able to find enough freelance writing and editing work to keep me going (enough to sustain me without, again, taking away from my Sudbury work), and will I find it before I exhaust the savings I’ve been draining at a rapid pace the past several months?
These are the questions dogging my days. Can I pull off this juggling act wherein I keep CASE, active participation in a Sudbury community, and a positive cash flow all in the air? What makes me think I can have my Sudbury cake and eat it too, that I can pursue passion-driven work and make it sustainable in both the short and long term?
The uncertainty doesn’t end there. Does moving back here represent a surrendering of the dream of Home that incorporates a sense of place (i.e., given that I never felt fully at home here even after 13.5 years)? How will my new Austin friendships fare across 950 miles of distance? Will I be able to rejoin the Ars Nova Singers? And how will I adjust to no longer having a Zen center I can visit five days a week?
In a nutshell, I moved back to Colorado because I judged it the best place for my career at this moment. Rather than looking ahead five or ten years, or considering a broader range of factors, this seems the right place for right now. But that doesn’t make the transition any easier, or the uncertainty and cluelessness any less daunting.