Welcome back to me! I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from this writing regularly thing that I was doing. I’ve been a bit bogged down in introspection and decided it might be best to take a few weeks to collect my thoughts before I put them on the internet for the world to judge. But, to be honest, I’ve had a bit of difficulty finding clarity lately. I’ve been feeling like the universe is trying to send me a message. And until this evening, I was pretty sure that message was to not even bother with trying to change things, because the second you do, it all falls apart. Several separate instances led to my forming this opinion.
#1- Back in late October, I was pretty certain I didn’t want to stay in law school, but I made up my mind to stick it out for the semester and see how I felt in December. It seemed like the right thing to do to at least give it that much of a try. Then a family crisis happened and I was called out of town and by the time I returned it was near to impossible to catch up on all I’d missed. Said the universe, “Fuck it. Go watch Netflix instead.” And despite my resolution to finish the term, I found myself in the dean’s office completing an exit interview and hanging my head because I couldn’t keep it together.
#2- In January I wrote myself a list of goals that escalated in difficulty for twelve months to try and help myself develop healthier habits. I got a good start on this and things were going well and then, well, my dad almost died in a car accident. Suffice it to say that my new goal was just to get him through the worst of it without having a breakdown of my own. Said the universe, “Fuck it. All you have time for right now is Publix subs and caffeine. Deal with your health later.”
#3- On Saturday, June 14th, I felt a rare sense of daring developing. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a right coward when it comes down to anything even remotely intimidating, so I semi-dismissed the feeling and went to bed. I woke up on Sunday morning and the feeling had not only persisted, it had redoubled its efforts at getting my attention. And I knew it was time. I was ready to try and learn to be brave. I thought, if I can take one little step today, then I’ll be able to take another little one tomorrow and some more after that. I dragged my ever-accommodating wife off to Coney Island and found a roller coaster that looked like it would scare me without killing me. We got in line and we paid and I panicked. I’m not a brave person and doing a brave thing was WAY outside my comfort zone. But I also realized that it was possible there was more to my panic than just the roller coaster fear (although that was a pretty giant fear by itself). If I managed to face up to one of my fears, I would know I was strong enough to face up to more of them, but I’d also have one less excuse to avoid them. I got on that coaster (reluctantly and with my wife urging me every step of the way) and I screamed my face off and cried and laughed and ended the ride not even knowing what to do with myself. And it was awesome. And so I thought, “Good job self. Let’s keep this up.” And for a few days I did. I even decided that I was going to go crazy and take a tap class. It’s been my lifelong dream to take dance classes at Broadway Dance Center, but I’ve avoided it because I felt like I wasn’t ready, like I’d stick out to much for being the large person in the room, like maybe I just wasn’t good enough to dare to dance on those hallowed floors. But I was going to do it. I was going to tell the world and my own insecurity to suck it and that I had as much right to dance as anyone. Yup. And then my ankle gave way as I was walking through a parking lot and that little dance class idea flew right on out the window. See, with my history of ankle injuries, there’s a strong possibility that a doctor could tell me I’ve done too much damage and won’t be able to dance. Until June 21st at about 10pm, I was pretty sure that was the universe’s final nail in the coffin of my ambitions and goals. I was relatively certain that the message was, “Fuck it. Hide in your room and drink a lot of wine because every time you try to make things better, I’m gonna knock you on your butt.”
But around 10pm my wife found out Shrek the Musical existed on Netflix and we decided to turn it on. And then this ragtag crew of fairytale creatures took the stage and somewhere in my brain a little light went on. The Pied Piper’s rats started dancing with Sutton Foster and I literally cried because the idea that I could lose dance was too painful. It was one thing to always think in the back of my head that I could get brave and go back when I was ready. It was a whole other tragedy to think that there might not be a choice. And I think that’s when it clicked. What if the universe isn’t trying to tell you to give up? What if the universe is trying to prove that there’s nothing you haven’t made it through, even if things didn’t always go as planned? What if you have a choice in how you interpret any message? Or what if the universe doesn’t give a fig about you at all? Maybe things just happen and you get through them how you can. I wouldn’t trade being there with my family through various crises for the best law school grades ever and a list of perfectly checked off goals. It was worth more to me to be there to say goodbye to someone I love, than it was to be in law school. It was more important to me to be with my dad whenever he woke up for that week when things were still really scary than it was to have perfect gold stars for drinking enough water and working out. And while this ankle injury is really scary for me right now, maybe the point wasn’t to take dance away, but to remind me to fight for something that it would hurt so much to lose. Maybe the universe is just trying to remind me of what my priorities really ought to be.
So to that end I’ve decided that this injury isn’t going to be an end for me. I don’t know how things will ultimately turn out with my foot, but I know that it’s time for me to figure out some priorities. I’m very good at making abstract lists of things I want and ideas I’d theoretically like to pursue, but I’m terrible at making concrete goals for myself. Much like bravery, it’s something I need to work on. So here are the first few.
Awesome Life Goal #1- Live in New York City for five years before considering relocation again. I’m infamous for my gypsy ways, but I’ve grown tired of traipsing around. One of my two goals in life was to be a New Yorker. It’s time to stick it out and make it work.
Awesome Life Goal #2- Go talk to a therapist. I was hesitant to be so forthcoming about this particular goal, but I realized that that is because our society has put such a stigma on asking for help with mental/emotional issues. But the reality is, if I am willing to go to the foot doctor to fix my foot when it is injured, I should be willing to do the same for my brain. Plus I really think that everyone could use an unbiased sounding block from time to time to help sort things out in their heads. It’s time for me to stop being a hypocrite and take my own advice. It’s a tough world, and if someone out there can make my anxiety about living in it a little less then it seems like a worthwhile goal to have.
Awesome Life Goal #3- Rejoin the world. Start trying to meet people in the city I love. Make plans for coffee with friends and actually follow through. Go to meetup groups and hang out with people that are into the same things as me. Connect with people again. It’s scary and difficult and probably worth it.
Awesome Life Goal #4- When I get sad, stop being sad and be awesome instead.