I once had just about everything a girl needs. All that stuff we work really hard to get so we can exhale. I had a good job, good health, friends, family, nice digs, farmers market food, a retirement account. Nothing to complain about.
In fact I often answered “How are you?” with “Nothing to complain about.”
Nothing to complain about. This was the best I could do.
Now when I say I ONCE had these things and I ONCE had nothing to complain about, I must tell you that was just a couple weeks ago and for a very long time before that. And also still today.
Here’s where the story takes a turn. You see, piling up reasons to not complain is not a way to live a life.
If you’re anything like me, you may have had a day when it hits you – or perhaps it’s been hitting you over and over for a while now – that something’s not quite right. That your biggest task in life seems to be keeping up with a list of tasks. Or maybe you’re not buried in lists, maybe you’re just going through the motions at work. Or at home. Or everywhere. Grateful, so very grateful for nothing to really complain about. Except that nagging question that won’t go away.
“Is this all there is? Is this as good as it’s gonna get? Is this what I’m doing with my one wild and precious life?”
We all want a reason to jump out of bed in the morning. We have dreams. Or we once did. But for many of us, our everyday reality does little to tell the story of those dreams. The years go by and the gap between what makes us come alive and how we actually spend our time gets wider and wider.
Because we have dreams, yes, but we also have to be responsible adults. There are bills to pay and people to care for. So eventually, as Jonathan Fields writes, “Being lit-up ceded the way to being grown-up”.
If you’re still reading, maybe you’re with me on this. You have a curiosity that keeps calling you to pursue it. You want to bring your best self to the world but you aren’t. Or you don’t know how. Maybe it’s a change that requires a drastic move like a new career or a new city. Maybe you know you need to get rid of some stuff, to get your body in better working order, to clear up that misunderstanding, to stop consuming and start creating.
Do you dream about living a more vibrant, healthy and integrated life? Do you want to be brave enough to change course when you recognize you’re going in the wrong direction? Are you scared to admit it because then you might have to actually do something about it? Me too, me too, me too.
I even hesitate to write it, but do it anyway because I believe that courage, in any amount, is contagious. I also know that we see ourselves in each other’s stories. It’s been the brave stories of people around me this year that have reminded me that dreams are worth pursuing.
So a couple weeks ago I decided to take a year off from my day job. I’ve had intentions of doing this in the past, but never followed through because it wasn’t time yet. Now it is. I work freelance so jobs may still be waiting for me in 2018. Or they may not. I may want them back and I may not. What I do want is way more than nothing to complain about.
Do I have a plan? Not yet. A fear of things going terribly wrong? Yep. But it’s time to start anyway.
One of the stories I see myself in is this one from Sarah Hepola. Perhaps you can relate.
“I don’t understand how to start anything. The way I am built, I would stand on a diving board for 10 years, wondering how to get myself in the water. I’m an over-thinker who wants to defuse any risk before I take it. But as anyone who has stood on a diving board for longer than two minutes knows, the water starts to make a persuasive case for itself. How do you get in the water? You get in the water. It’s really that simple.”
Sometimes it really is that simple. Sometimes you just have to jump.