The Other Thing

In January 2017 I read a book that changed my life. “What I was Doing While You Were Breeding” by the hilarious Kristin Newman is exciting and truthful and dirty and “laugh so hard a little wee comes out” funny. I was amazed again and again at how the writer could put into words so concisely so many thoughts I’ve had myself but struggled to express.

In the book, Newman discusses how we live in a time where the choices we make about what we want from life are so rarely black and white. If we are fortunate, as I am, to be in a position where we are safe, healthy, and, if not well off, at least not destitute, then often the decisions we are faced with are between two almost equally great opportunities. We choose between two things that we want almost equivalently and must make our peace with missing out on one of them. This leaves us always, as Newman puts it, “a little in mourning for the other thing”.

I have been lucky enough in my life to be given the chance to develop many skills and see many places. But because of this good fortune I have faced many of these near impossible decisions. Recently I had to make one of these choices. I had to decide whether to return to a fantastic job in a glorious place surrounded by incomparable people, or to turn the page, and in doing so end that chapter of my life. I chose to move on. I chose to search for somewhere new to grow and new beautiful people to love. I chose the uncertainty of exploration over the comfort of the known and the certitude of experience. So now I stand on the brink of the undiscovered with so many notions about so many potential futures. I spend much of my time imagining how I can consolidate all of my ideas and experiences into a meaningful path, and in turn frustration and inspiration surge and subside within me. A passion for writing and for travel and adventure. An adoration of and affinity for horses and a soul deep love of the earth and the spectacular natural world around us. An intense curiosity about people and stories and the human spirit.

And so, like Sylvia Plath with her fig tree, I have started to feel opportunities slipping through my fingers. With so many possible paths in front of me I know how incredibly fortunate I am to be in this position, but that knowledge doesn’t make the decisions any easier. The longer I wait, the more chances pass me by and the more restricted I feel, but the fear of making the wrong choice keeps me from making any choice at all. I know that no matter what I path I pick going forward I have the capacity to find happiness and to grow, but that doesn’t abate the fear of missing out, or that feeling of being always a little in mourning for the other thing.

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