I can hop the fence back and forth all day, and it seems the grass on the other side eventually starts to always appear greener simply because it is on the opposite side. This internal conflict has really caused me to question myself at times. What do I want? Do I only want what I don’t have? Will I ever be completely satisfied? What am I searching for? Am I living in the future?
I have always had this need to try different versions of my life and of myself so that I can know which one I really want, as though one cannot be without the other. For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to the idea of a life based on perpetual travel and the unknown and adventure. At the same time, I know I am also drawn to a more traditional life of home, family, work, stability.
So in late September of 2013, I set out to try the nomadic life. I sold my furniture and put my personal belongings in a small storage. I prepared to enter a life of instability and unknown, one of endless exploration and travel. I would buy a motorhome, remodel it and sleep on couches until I could live in it. It was what I wanted, and I had the most acute form of excitement inside of me. I absolutely could not wait. I moved out of my apartment on September 30th of last year, setting for myself a goal of one year to try out this nomadic version of life that so intrigued me. Once and for all, I would finally figure out if this lifestyle that I had been dreaming about for years was what I really wanted. And so it began…
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. September again. This year, instead of selling everything and preparing for a life of unknown locations, I was signing a one year lease and moving into a house. I was unpacking from my storage all of the things I had just packed up a year ago. I moved into my house one year to the day since I had moved out of my apartment. I’ve spent the last weeks building a home, preparing to enter a life of a bit more stability and permanence. A more “stationary” life.
I’ll tell you that I had the same exact levels of excitement and anticipation during both Septembers. Neither year’s excitement seems stronger than the other. How can two extreme opposites both bring me the same amount of eager enthusiasm?
I may have succeeded in my goal of one year trial, but did I actually accomplish my mission to determine what type of lifestyle I want? To determine what version of myself feels best? No. And yes. No, I have not deciphered which I would choose over the other, but yes I did determine the lifestyle I want. In doing this most recent experiment, I suppose I have realized that it doesn’t always have to be one or the other. Sometimes, it can be both. Sometimes.
I believe in the power of cycles, and I understand their necessity. I also understand how cyclical my own behavior in life is. I like change, I enjoy rotation, and I need life to be stirred up regularly. My constant is to not be constant. I need endings and beginnings and middles, just like in the stories we read and in those we write.
My writing is cyclical as well. While in the midst of an experience, I struggle to complete my writing. It’s always later, when I have downtime to reflect, that I am able to feel finished. Perhaps it’s because I can’t finish writing about something that has not yet ended.
In the motorhome, there were periods when I would write and write, but it was never anything that seemed cohesive. It was more intense ramblings about my intense epiphanies or realizations or adventures, and I never shared any of them because they never felt complete. I suppose those are probably the very things I should share, yet it never felt right. And now I read the jagged pieces all at once and they string together into a song that is my summer.
A season has ended. So, too, has a chapter of my life, and I am entering a new phase of less intensity, one in which I can reflect and remember and… finish writing. I suppose I like endings afterall.
There is middle ground between both worlds. Both versions of me. Both versions of life that I want.
And that’s where I am, at least right now. I am enjoying this phase of stationary existence, nestling deep into the darkness of fall and then winter. Now I am able to reflect on this great adventure of the past year in a way I have not yet done. All I want to do is dive into a hibernation of a sort; Hunker down for the cold with warm clothes and hot drinks and recent memories to fuel my storytelling.
But like the seasons change so, too, do my internal tides, and I know now that it is only a matter of time before I long to set off onto a Blue Highway in the early dawn. And this time I will do that at the moment the desire arises, for I am ready. Stud awaits me out in my new back yard, ready when I am. I don’t have to completely change my life to take on the adventures that I dream up. I can be nomadic at times, and I can be nesting at times.
I set off last year to find out more about what type of life I wanted: a nomadic life or a stationary life. I thought my experiment would lead me to a clear answer of which I wanted more, but ultimately I only became more unsure. Sometimes I want to be filthy and wander and explore the unknown. Other times I want to bake cookies in my cozy kitchen and enjoy the stable and the familiar. When I stopped putting so much pressure on myself to choose one or the other, and instead accepted the fact that I can’t choose between the two, is when I found my answer. I don’t have to choose between these two versions of myself. I can have both. And here I am, doing just that.
Are you finding difficulty in choosing between a this or a that? Is it possible to find a balance between them both? When is a time we cannot choose both?