This move to change our lives is happening.
I leave for New Orleans this morning. My son, Joseph, and I hit the road straight from my last day at work to drop his car off for college in Montana, then it’s on to the Big Easy to join my wife, Stephani, and daughter, Sophia, who have been there since July 23.
This is exciting…and scary.
Let me tell you a secret: this transition from Seattle to New Orleans has been hard. It has been emotional. Sometimes it has been downright fucking painful, including because I made things harder than they needed to be.
The stress of this cross-country move has been real. It ebbs and flows and has different flavors: the finances of paying for it all, the logistics of moving our stuff across the country (or not) in phases, and exiting our home in the Seattle area.
There there’s the pain we experienced in the Pacific Northwest we remained in for months between the decision to move and our final landing. The joyless existence of living in the rental house that daily represented the life we no longer wished to live, including because the house was sparsely furnished after buying our new home in April and moving things down to set it up on Airbnb.
The unknown of buying a house before I have a new career lined up in New Orleans has also weighed heavy on me (see the part about paying for the move!). Being a professional in transition, both at my current employer and looking toward by future in New Orleans, has not been easy.
Throw in the rest of life: being a spouse. Being a parent. Being a professional. Finding time to take care of yourself.
Now throw in my faults as a human being and I made mistakes. I didn’t show up how I wanted or my family needed. Other people got hurt. I got hurt. It was not fun.
I’m still a work in progress. Yes, I had a huge transformation, but my character defects didn’t magically disappear when things changed a few years ago.
I have not been the picture of zen and serenity through this, especially inside. Sometimes I’ve been a cranky bastard with a short fuse and the adventure definitely has its lows because of that.
I’m an over-thinker and a worrier. Someone who retreats into himself rather than bare my soul when I’m stressed. And there has been a lot of stress.
I learned that lesson about how we can make our own lives more difficult than it needs to be. And because of that, I learned I have more work to do.
Almost everything about this move has now required me to let go in new ways.
- Letting go of the idea that landing a new job needed to precede our move.
- Letting go of knowing where the money for this transition was going to come from.
- Letting go of the unrealistic expectations of what our house in the Seattle area would look like during the transition.
- Letting go of all the painful emotions that moving in this way, including going through — and in many cases discarding — memory-inducing possessions, reveals.
- Letting go of the idea that I have or need to have all the answers as we make this transition.
Problem: I’m not very good at letting go. It’s not my natural state. It’s not how I’ve lived much of my life.
Something happened at the end of June that began to shift that. We had the chance to escape to Breitenbush Hot Springs in the midst of this madness. That meant five days and four nights of no cell coverage and no WiFi in the mountains of Oregon. Sophia finished yoga teacher training at a retreat there. Stephani and I tagged along for the ride to make it a personal break while supporting her (and yes, Sophia finished her training and is now a certified yoga teacher at 16 years of age…awesome!).
Stephani bought me a book, The Untethered Soul, during a stop in Portland on the way to the retreat. A Tibetan shop-keeper recommended it to her for me (while I sat on the top of a double-decker bus turned coffee shop drinking Turkish coffee after filling our bellies at our favorite restaurant in Portlandia). This was not a coincidence.
The book was just what I needed at that time, in that place. I paced my way through it in the relaxing quiet and tranquility of Breitenbush, finishing right before we packed-up to leave (also, not a coincidence).
There’s an entire chapter on “Pain, the Price of Freedom.” Yes, indeed it is the price. And the pathway to the freedom we’re seeking to create in our lives in moving has very much had it’s pain, no small part of it caused by my reactions to stress rather than anything else.
Pain isn’t the end of the world, but it can cause problems. The author says at one point, “If life unfolds in a way that stimulates your inner problems, then by definition, it’s not okay.”
Problem: a lot of my life during the last few months have been filled with things that stimulate those inner problems. That hasn’t been good for me. It sure hasn’t been good for my family. Mission #1 for me in New Orleans: get in a rhythm and flow that stimulates the best of me, not the worst.
Yet, however, much I try, I know none of us can fully escape those ingredients that cause us problems. Thus, slowly I’ve been working the last few weeks to increasingly follow the book’s counsel: “relax, then release.” It’s a simple phrase that encapsulates much of the work’s theme of different aspects of letting go of the things we have weighing us down. A simple phrase with a lot packed in to the book (which if you’re intrigued by these concepts, you should read!).
Friends, I’ve had a lot of things weighing me down recently. It’s time to let them go.
This past couple weeks I’ve done a lot of sorting through old things. Things filled with memories from my childhood, college, and my life as an adult. Many pleasant memories, many not, including in reflecting how I showed up in them. Ultimately, a lot of things that stirred emotion…and some deep fucking pain.
That’s a big part of why it’s time for me to let go. It’s not always easy or instinctive for me, but I don’t have a choice. The alternative is not the life I want to live.
This drive for New Orleans will be a splendid, father-son road trip, taking us to parts of the country we’ve never experienced before. A new journey to start a new adventure, whose foundation has to be for me about letting go of the past so that what’s possible and waiting for me in the future is allowed to be…and flourish.
That IS the life I want to live.
Time to let that happen.