There is something about driving alone, at night, fast, with everything you own, to a brand new place. It's a kind of high off of self-sufficiency, maybe adrenaline surging at the frontier of doubt. But doubt intersects with great potential and so this fast-driving-leave-everything-behind-rush springs forth from the interplay and the elusive balance between risk and reward. And I risk raising cetain mentalities with such language, the language of finance, becauae the risks and rewards in the car going 90mph are inherently very different from the risks and rewards typically included in your metaphorical (or literal) pro/con list.
You go over it in your head one hundred times. All of the possibilities, the potential for fuck-ups, for fame, the fairy-tale and the nightmare - because of course there is no other way it could go. It's always all or nothing. Then there's the decision. This could be instant, or it could be drawn out and meticulous, but one way or another, the choice is made. And it always comes down to this: to stay, or to go. We're constantly walking away from something, always stumbling into something new. We may close the door behind us, or we may double back, bridges might be burned, but we are always entering into new territory. With these seemingly "big" decisions, the territory we leave or discover may be more obvious and it can be a daunting decision to make. Should I stay or should I go?
You measure out the excitement of newness against the security of routine. "Change is good," you tell yourself, but then again, all of the images you've ever seen of success and happiness depend upon the notion of stability and predictability. Opportunities lie in your connections, and breaking away from that means not only creating a clean slate, but it also means... creating a clean slate- you have to start from scratch. And just as Traci Chapman's brilliant song Fast Car illustrates, sometimes change isn't really change. Sometimes, no matter how many times you start over, or take a risk, enter new territory or close a chapter of your life, life isn't discrete; things overflow, overlap, and follow you even against your bidding. Sometimes moving on is really running away.
So then what?
Well, you take a chance, that's what, it's as simple as that. You figure out along the way where the tipping point is and how you measure worth. If you're lucky, you learn earlier on how to distinguish your values from the ones that society has forced on you, how to own your choices and deal with the hand you're dealt. There is a learning curve though, and I think our generation is bending that curve in our favor. A key point here is mindfullness- being as acutely aware as you can be of when your values shift or the situation changes negatively, and being strong enough in your resolve to adjust or abandon ship. There are two historical accounts of the Battle of Troy. One, Homer's famous account tells the story of glorious victory. The other, less glamorous and thus less well known account is that of soldiers retreating; running away. And the author celebrates this, he says, "there is a time to fight and a time to retreat; it is a wise man (or woman) who knows the difference." althohgh he didn't say it in so many words. And while our culture is one that celebrates almost blind dedication, sometimes the occasion calls for a different tactic.
As for now, I'm moving on, trudging through a field of doubt, and holding onto a glimpse on the horizon of something bright rising. Change is always hard, but the sunrise is always beautiful.
May your path be illuminated.