And when I grow up, I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed…

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.

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Cause wouldn’t it be such a shame if all was wasted…

I think I should spend more time listening to music. It always reminds me of who I am, at my core. It always brings me back to myself.

Something about hearing a certain chord with the right voices gets straight to the heart of everything.

I had an interesting conversation with my sister the other day. In the nicest way possible, I’m pretty sure she told me, “Enough is enough.” I’ve been hiding out since my unceremonious departure from law school. I devoted months of my life to studying for something I didn’t even want to do and when the whole thing became too much I completely retreated. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out the whys. I have a lot of theories, but I think the reality is that I was scared. Academics are easy for me. I took the LSAT after doing two shows the day before, one of them that started at midnight, and then going out for drinks afterward. Went to bed at 3am and got up at 6am and did well enough to be offered several full tuition scholarships. I know this sounds like bragging, but it’s not. I can’t take pride in something that wasn’t that difficult for me. Given the choice between what was right and what was easy, I chose easy. I seriously need a Pocket Dumbledore to remind me that the easy choice never comes without a cost. But this choice is starting to become more expensive than I bargained for. I already paid with a year that I can’t get back. So perhaps the well-intended admonishment from my little sister was more timely than I initially realized. Because it made me think. I’ve been in full retreat for awhile, and while I’ve gained an impressive knowledge of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’ve lost time that I can’t get back. Also, while I can blame some of my current ennui on my thyroid, I can’t keep allowing it to be an excuse. I told my wife yesterday that she could complain about something or she could decide to change it. (Disclaimer- I was not being my most patient and diplomatic self at that particular moment, but the words were true and now I need to start practicing what I preach lol.) So today I thought I’d brainstorm and come up with a list of some of the things I want to do and why I can’t do them if I’m busy hiding out and watching old sitcoms.

  • Scuba diving- I have wanted to learn to do this forever, but until I get my sedentary butt off the couch, I’ll never get in decent enough shape to make this a possibility.
  • Spelunking- I prefer to keep my thrill seeking at or below ground level, so you won’t see me talk about sky diving, but I am utterly taken with the idea of crawling around caverns. I’ve never had much chance to experience it, but what I have seen has left me with a serious itch to see more. But it’s the same deal. Even guided tours generally have some fitness/weight restrictions.
  • Aerial dancing- Can we just talk about how freaking amazing it would be to make art like this? But it requires CRAZY arm strength. CRAZY. And I don’t have that right now. And I can’t have that if I’m not doing anything more difficult than walking a 1/2 mi. to get coffee.
  • Surfing- You’d think a Florida child would have been surfing at least once or twice. No such luck. But I sure would love to try it. I’m pretty sure the real thing beats the heck out of channel surfing.
  • Tap dancing- I used to be a pretty decent hoofer, but I haven’t even put on my shoes for longer than I am comfortable admitting. An amazing teacher I had the last time I was coming out of a life rut told me I was a natural dancer. She pretty much made my life with that statement. But I got tired and started to forget myself again and on the way I lost the dancing. But I miss it. Gosh I miss it. Only now, and forgive me for making the uncomfortable statement, but I feel like that awkward fat kid in the back and I’m scared to go back. Logic always fails me here. It’s the one thing in the world that I want the most, but I’m terrified to go get it.
  • Performing- I want to be onstage again. The best part of me only exists when I’m actually being my best. My best me has been hiding out for awhile, sulking about being an old failure. But the only thing that’s done is start to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Every day that I spend avoiding the world is another day of failing and another day of getting older.

I think the gist of it all is that if I want to do anything with my life other than memorize obscure Angel quotes and reminisce about the golden days when I was full of glorious potential, I have to get back up. Falling down happens. Staying down is a choice. And maybe these are the golden days. Maybe that glorious potential is just waiting for me to resurrect it from where it’s been waiting while I was in hiding. I’m pretty sure it’s waiting in my feet somewhere. 🙂 Even at my saddest, my toes never stopped tapping out their rhythms. Something in me remembers the music. Maybe tomorrow will feel different, but today feels worth getting up for and that’s something to hold onto.

I will leave you with words from someone who expresses what I’m trying to say much better than I could ever hope to.

ODE
We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
 
With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.
 
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
-Arthur O’Shaughnessy
 
I want to be a music maker again. It’s time to resurrect some dreams. Thanks for the advice, little sister.