Making decisions is pretty tough for me at times. I joke with my friends that I'm so anxious about making any decision, that I'm the person who orders something at a restaurant, then sees a plate go by, or even imagines food envy in my future, and chases the server down to change my order. But it's not really a joke. It's true. I've done it. More than once.
I think of myself as a person who is generally very happy with my life. Certainly extremely grateful. I don’t take things for granted. I stop and smell the flowers, quite literally.
And yet, I am often haunted by all the wonderful lifestyles that I inadvertently rejected by choosing mine. It is a truly privileged position. I’m aware of the amount of entitlement required to feel this way. How nauseating is the sound of the lament of “I can’t live in Amsterdam because I live in San Francisco” or “I can’t live in a house in the country because I live in a condo in the city”. It's not lost on me that I’m incredibly fortunate to have crafted my life on my own in the city of my choosing, thousands of miles from where I grew up- something my ancestors and many of my living family members even now aren't able to do (and something I myself wouldn’t even be able to afford to do if I’d moved here today instead of 2002). Not to mention all the folks who suffer unspeakable things simply due to the area and situation in which they were born.
Still, when I was visiting my parents during Christmastime, I was jogging past some beautiful old homes blocks away from my parents’ newer townhouse in the area where I grew up, and a pang of longing hit me. I briefly envisioned a life wherein I owned a small beautiful old home and walked to my parents' house in the mornings to have tea with my mom. Not ten minutes before, I'm sure I was thinking about how grateful I am that it's generally 30 degrees warmer when I'm running in San Francisco. Thoughts like these pop up in my mind at least monthly. And when I'm traveling, hourly. It's rare that I meet a town in this world that I don't fall in love with- even while not a day goes by when I don't marvel at the beauty of the San Francisco Bay Area. Well, ok, maybe three days a year go by.
To be clear, I’m not saying to never move around. Or to choose based on weather, or the size of the housing. If you are fortunate enough to have a non-toxic family and health that can withstand most types of weather and most types of housing, then it’s probably a great idea to live some of your adult life near your family and some of it more on your own, and some of it in an urban area and some of it not. If you can. But maybe you can’t. Either way, I’m saying this to you: You’ll probably drain all the joy out of wherever you live, if you spend a lot of your time with your body in one place and your heart and mind in another. Holding the tension of being a nester who also has wanderlust can be a real challenge, I know. Sometimes after a trip, I have to remind myself to step away from the Trulia site- or at least limit it to two hours.
When I'm feeling gentle and caring toward myself, I can see that, at least in part, my feelings of uncertainty about where I “should” be, stem from my empathic nature. I feel strongly connected to lots of other people and lots of other places, like I could slip into anyone's home or life and find so much to marvel at, to relish. But when I'm feeling judgmental of my restlessness and indecision, and interpreting it as ungratefulness, I want to... well, run. Out of SF, and even out of my own skin. But you can't run from yourself. So I try to evaluate what it is in my life that needs to change. And what doesn't. I try to stay. In the moment. In gratitude. On my mat. In my chair at the restaurant, happily eating what I already ordered. And, sometimes, enjoying feasting my eyes on the myriad other plates as they pass by-or taking a quick vacation over to the ones that land at my table, in front of my endlessly patient friends.
is a health-seeker and health educator living in the US in San Francisco, California. She is also a former (and maybe future) high school English teacher, and she loves words. Maybe health seeker looks better with a hyphen, or maybe it doesn't. You should just get over it. Even if she cannot.