I have to move.
Not today or any time soon, but eventually. It’s a long story, but the short version is that this summer is going to be interesting because everyone in my family is moving. Everyone.
My sister is getting married. My dad’s retiring. My parents are leaving New York, for Ukraine. And, as if that weren’t enough, my brother and his family are heading to Alaska. And because everyone else is moving, so am I. Only there’s a problem.
I don’t know where.
I only know that I have to, because I can’t stay here. And, while a scary prospect by itself, the good news is I have options. At the same time, the bad news is I have options.
I’ve never done well with deadlines. This might sound surprising coming from someone who has done NaNoWriMo five times successfully. But that’s different; that’s a deadline I put on myself. Deadlines from other people, from life, God, and the universe, those tend to trip me up.
No, no, those tend to paralyze me.
Because it doesn’t feel like an open door. It feels like the edge of a cliff.
It’s not all bad, of course. There’s a part of me that is genuinely excited by the prospect of something new and different. These last few years have done a lot of changing in me. At one time, I was quite the homebody, but lately I’ve been feeling like I could move just about anywhere. And yet, as much as I’m trying to see this as an adventure, it’s hard not to see it as an assignment. One I could fail.
Currently, I’m looking at two options. Two places I could move to that would be feasible, that I could make work. And, coincidentally, or perhaps not coincidentally at all, they are almost completely opposite to each other. In location, in layout, in weather, but most importantly in the possibilities they represent for me. Both are places I’ve never been to before, but one would be a lot more familiar than the other one, due in large part to the fact that it would be near my sister. The other would provide a lot of opportunity for growth, as a person, a writer, and a creative. Both have their challenges and prospects, but there isn’t a clear contender. Except, there kind of is. And that’s my problem.
I want there to be a right answer. A part of me, a big part, needs there to be one. I need to know that one is where I should be and the other is where I shouldn’t. Only, that’s not how it feels. Either one feels like a good idea. In the end, it’s less about what I should do vs. what I shouldn’t, and more what I want to do vs. what I think I ought to do. Because one is where I want to be, but the other is where I think I should go. One is new and different, the other predictable and familiar.
One is adventure, the other is safety.
And while I know they would both be a challenge because they would both be new, there is one that is definitely the sort of challenge that I want to take. And that’s a problem.
Because wanting things doesn’t work out for me. Not the way I’ve wanted anyways. Because when I think about moving to a new place, I can’t help but think about the last new place I moved to, the one that tested me in ways that still sting to think about, the one I had to leave. That was an adventure, the kind I wanted to take, but I still wonder sometimes if it was successful.
Now, here I am presented with a very similar decision. Adventure or safety. What feels like growth or what looks like responsibility.
And while I want to be the kind of person who says “yes” when adventure is presented to him, I can’t help but feel guilty about the part of me that wants to take that leap. Because I saw what it lead to last time.
I know what that is, of course, the feeling that drives that guilt and that anxiety. Fear. It’s fear. It always has been, and I’ve known it for a while. That should make it easy because I know you should never let fear in the driver’s seat. Only that hasn’t made it easier. That hasn’t made me more sure of the choice I want to make. That hasn’t made the choice I want to make feel like the right choice.
But I’m starting to wonder if it’s supposed to.
If it were as easy as choosing the opposite of fear, then I feel like we’d make a lot more brave decisions, or a lot more safe ones, now that I think of it. Because what we want is on the other side of fear, not in the opposite direction.
The thing they never tell you growing up is that the right decision isn’t always the only one. This is something I have been learning for a while and, even as I say that, I know I still don’t have a clue. But I’m learning that it’s not always about right vs. wrong but about who you want to be and who you don’t.
Fear isn’t who I want to be. I want to be the kind of person who chooses adventure, but, deeper than that, I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t let fear define him.
And, no, that hasn’t made this easier. I still shift in my head, one moment sure I can do it, the next certain I have to choose the safe route. But the goal of all decision-making is to become who you want to be, to change yourself and thus the world. And I know the direction that’s pointing in. I think I could be that person in either place, but one definitely feels like the better way. Or, at the very least, feels like it’s worth the shot.
Like I said, I’m still thinking, and life could always throw me a curveball in the next few days. But I know the decision I don’t want to make, and that’s Fear.