Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about freedom. There’s the politically charged notion of liberty that stands stubborn in the face of a tyrannical majority. There’s the circumstance of being released from captivity or escaping from some sort of confine. And then, there’s the condition of personal autonomy. It’s a state of being where the sum of one’s actions and the totality of one’s life choices allow for the parameters of existence to be completely and totally defined by, well…you!
Freedom is why I am moving to Los Angeles. I’m quitting a good job and boxing up an easy life because I can. I’m 31 years old. I’m single. I’m responsible. I don’t have children to raise. I don’t a partner to consider. I have no pets. I don’t even really have family who factor into the equation of my daily life decisions.
What I do have is myself, and lately I’ve experienced a renaissance of sorts in reconnecting to that odd, peering reflection I see daily in the mirror.
I didn’t turn 30 gracefully. I’ve spent the better part of the last year bemoaning what I don’t have. I’ve lamented career choices. I’ve coveted my friend’s romantic relationships. I’ve formed highly inappropriate attachments. But at a certain point, we have to take inventory of what we do possess.
In the shadow of loneliness lurks the obsidian silhouette of epic sovereignty. For me, being alone at this point in this life is a true gift.
In moving to Los Angeles, I am embracing the notion that my existence can be an artful safari. Maybe selling everything you own and venturing to a sprawling metropolises where you know very few people isn’t what you’re supposed to do at 31, but it’s what I’m doing! I’m actually quite excited about the prospect of arriving in the second largest city in the U.S. without a job or without a place to live. That’s because the ideology of work and home have arrested my development. I don’t know who I am without one or both of these crutches. No, that doesn’t mean I’m going to be unemployed for very long or homeless at all. I’ve been smart about saving up money to ensure my survival. I’ll be laser-focused on finding gainful work. But sometimes you have to completely let go of the past before you can fully embrace the present. California will be my blank canvass. On it’s expansive, golden coast I will paint something daring and fresh. Life is not a reality one should settle into; it’s a state of being on should boldly define.
I am under no illusions. I’ll be alarmed when I roll into the jam-packed streets of Hollywood and my dented yellow Ford Focus doesn’t have it’s own space to park in. It’ll be disarming that first week or two when I won’t have a bed to call my own. I will do doubt feel a tinge of fear when payroll deposits cease to find their way into my bank account. I’ll be a little lost wandering crowded streets and discovering new venues where not a soul recognizes me. When I get home–once I eventually have one–there won’t be that familiar maze of art to comfort my sensibilities. I won’t have a Jayson to imbibe a bottle of win with. I won’t have a Lynette to eat Indian food with. I won’t have a Steffen to visit at the bar or make vegan pizzas with. I will have none of the boundaries that define my sense of safety, comfort, and belonging.
But what I will have is everything else—the awesomeness of the unknown. I don’t know what it feels like to wake up as a Californian, to know that your backyard is a canyon and your front porch is a beach. I can only faintly fathom what it will mean to live in a city where being gay isn’t an aberration. My taste buds can only water over the prospect of having raw, vegan, and multi-ethnic cuisine available at nearly any corner.
I will attract the right job that will put me on a path toward financial prosperity and personal enrichment. I don’t know what that will be yet, but it will be something meaningful and challenging that will allow me to grow in the exact ways in which I need to develop. I invite with eager anticipation new friends into my life. I look forward to random connections made as I hike canyons, stroll beach walks, go to yoga, delve deeper into my spiritual interests, wander aimlessly along the streets, peruse art galleries, and seek out awesome music. I’ll take writing classes, volunteer for a film festival or LGBT group, and go to Meet Ups. I might even get political again…this time in a liberal locale!
I’ll do all of this because the sum of my choices has allowed it to be. I am grateful to have the freedom to make this giant, uncomfortable personal change!
We should fall in love with our life a little bit each day. If we don’t, we owe it to ourselves to make some adjustments. Change is uncomfortable. If you’re being true to yourself, though, it will always be compelling.