Fear: A Call for Love

eleanor-roosevelt-quotes-sayings-motivational-wisdom-scareEleanor Roosevelt said that we should do one thing everyday that scares us. The patron feminist figure is a great barometer for fearlessness. First Lady of the United States from 1933-1945, she did all sorts of daring stuff women weren’t supposed to do. She took on the clan, championed racial equality, held press conferences, wrote columns, toured coalmines, helped found the United Nations, and had openly lesbian friends. She might have even been romantically entangled with one of them…while being the President’s wife!

She stared down fear by doing things women didn’t do in the 1930’s.  I’ve always admired her for staunchly pushing forward on issues she cared about while aggressively asserting herself despite the times in which she lived.  She lived out her mission by seeing past her fears.

Today, I summoned a bit of that E.R. energy myself by doing not one, but TWO things that scared me:

1)   I resigned my job.

2)   I called out my biggest fear of all: being alone.

Effective December 24th, I won’t have the security of gainful employment. Instead, I’ll have the freedom of enterprising opportunity. Perhaps I’ll land a gig before then, but if not, the wheels are rolling out of ICT and into Cali! I’ve always been afraid of sending off that e-mail officially saying that I’ll no longer work where I do. It’s difficult to leave a comfortable job that has brought only good into your life. At a certain point, though, you have to acknowledge the shortcomings of security. What good is a job if in only reinforces an unfulfilled life?

I’m moving to Los Angeles for several reasons, but a big part of why I’m uprooting my entire existence at 31 is that I want to find a place where I belong again. That was Wichita for a time. For a season I truly felt that I belonged here, but it’s been years since I’ve felt connected or fulfilled. Like most traditional locales, the advent of the 30’s in Wichita means marriage, children, and mortgages for most.  Not really my thing. Plus I’m gay. Enough said. In urban settings, life doesn’t settle in at 30; it’s that point when the adventure truly takes off. I’m ready to find a tribe of people to whom I feel connected with again.

It’s within that most yearned of prospects that my biggest fear has lied. The truth is that I’m not afraid of going broke or being homeless. Somehow, I just intrinsically know neither of those fates will befall me. It’s being alone that I’m worried about. After all, I’m moving to a city where I sort of know a total of kind of 4 people:

1)   My super cool therapist cousin who I’m just now getting to really know and who’s been awesomely supportive of my venture.

2)   An indie flick PR maven I’ve barely seen since high school who I once shared an inside joke with about Civil War aficionado Mary Chesnut. Google her.

3)   The marketing manger for TOMS (yes, the hipster show company!) who former roommate Steffen splashed a shot onto by accident last fall when I was visiting WeHo. He does yoga and posts inspirational memes on his Facebook page.

4)   Steffen’s ex-boyfriend, who is super sweet and probably loads of fun with a great taste in music and affinity for Venice Beach.

Yesterday I was sort of wrapped up in this ridiculous self-pity lonely fear cocoon when LA acquaintance #3 (who will henceforth be referred to as TOMS Guy) randomly commented on a Facebook post I made about fear. I was attempting to pep-talk myself into not being afraid, but really missing the mark entirely when I posted:

Fear. You can give in to it and be defeated. Or you can stare it down and be delivered to something awesome.

TOMS Guy commented:

…or there is always the 3rd, more gentler way. You look past it. For fear is of this world but not of the true world… Fear is nothing but a “call for love.” Bring the love and the fear disappears…

His comment was a simultaneous cold slash of water and hot slap in the face. Throughout all of the year’s worth of saving money and making plans to move, there’s one thing I had not done…called in love! You can’t rid yourself of loneliness or find a tribe to belong to when you aren’t calling out for love to embrace you.

So today, I did just that. And this post is my official call for love! Love is an optimal state where who we are connects to the energy of people around us. It draws in the best of them while extrapolating from us our brightest gems. Friendships, friend groups, tribes, communities, and ultimately romantic partners are born from this force. Once I saw that, fear did indeed disappear.

TOMS are wise sages in addition to being trendy shoes.

All in all, I suppose today was pretty epic. I didn’t pen an Eleanor Roosevelt U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights draft, but I did kick two fears to the curb. Sometimes, the most significant work happens inside our own brain. And on our Facebook wall.

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Freedom: Uncomfortable. Compelling.

17833_568175505032_1064411_nLately 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.

In Between the Kansas Prairie & the Hollywood Hills

1233609_10100229436170332_771747572_nI’m in between the flat Kansas prairie and the towering hills of Hollywood. Mentally, at least.  It’s an odd sort of purgatory, living in a certain place while planning another life in a distinctly different locale.  This is where I have been for exactly a year. This is where I will continue to be for exactly 3 more months.

I’ve lived in Wichita for 14 years. During that time, I was a political activist, an art promoter, a writer, and a special events manager for a non-profit. I didn’t know a soul when I moved here; when I ran for public office, I had a database of over 10,000 friends, acquaintances, and professional contacts. I used to muse about being the mayor; now I daydream about the day I’ll leave for Los Angeles, driving west on US-54 for the last time.

I’m not the first person to leave a small city for a bigger, bolder life. Most do this at a milestone moment. College graduates take their newly minted degree to a thriving metropolis hoping their ambition will catapult them to success. A job well done earns a promotion, and with it a relocation to an urban locale.  Marriage often leads to moves. Family obligations breed frequent migration. There’s a multitude of reasons why and when people leave cities like Wichita.

 Me?

Well, I’m leaving because nothing else is happening.  Friends have moved away or moved on to marriage and children. Activism turned into cynicism as teabag carrying curmudgeons brain-drained our state into Rush Limbaugh’s creamiest wet dream.  Political ambitions faded into the tapestry of a reality where anything that is meaningful happens far from the edges of politics. Mediocrity replaced motivation as I just sort of settled into an existence that was far from bad, though nothing near what is good for me.

In-between periods are awkward and their parameters are undefined. I should know because I’ve been living one for three years. After I left politics, I was never quite able to regain a distinct purpose to my life. I didn’t find a new passion, form a new group of friends, or shift focus to a different, higher work. I just sort of ruminated in my own head. Sure, I had a job—a great job, actually. And I wrote, lots in fact. I met intriguing people. I saw compelling stuff. But the truth is that I flipped as switch the day I left politics, and I’ve never turned on another light.

But I can see a light now, and it’s not just the distant California sun dancing amidst a glowing sea of palm trees. I see something larger, brighter, grander, and I see it right where I am. At the moment, that’s a bar in Delano. But that glow isn’t indigenous to my surroundings; it’s intrinsic to me.

By the end of the year, I will be 31 years old and unemployed. I’m moving from a city where a 2,000 square foot loft of my own near downtown rents for $400 to a place where a small bedroom in an apartment I’ll share with strangers will cost me $900. The dawn of Obamacare will mandate me to carry my own insurance. This will drain my nest egg about $250 monthly because I’m in that under-discussed group of millennials who somehow are getting financially penalized by this much needed reform. We’re carrying the greatest portion of debt in generations, yet we’ll pay more than anyone else for our own insurance. None of this sounds good!

Most people aren’t willing to upend their comfortable life so late into their youth. But I’m not most people. That light I’ve found inside myself is a laser beam that has burned away doubt and apprehension and illuminated a path forward paved with optimistic anticipation.

I read a blog post recently that advised one should know WHY they are moving to LA before they actually up and go. The truth is that the last 3 years of my life have been an odd exercise in existence devoid of any clear direction or grand meaning. I’ve spent the last year preparing for this move, but really it’s just been in the last few months that the significance of its advent has come into focus. So, here is why I am moving to LA:

1.     I want to be a writer. Most of you know only scattered details of the stories I have to tell. One could say that I already am a writer, but it’s become obvious that I’ve reached the apex of anything I could ever do with my words in Wichita. I’m going to take some classes once I get settled and steadily work my way into the business. In ten years, I want to have at least 2 novels published. I’m realistic about the challenges. I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.

2. I want to be some place bigger than me. It’s the mountains, the beaches, the start-studded boulevards, the iconic buildings, and endless parks that I long to traipse through. I’m highly stimulated by environments. I need a place where organic energy and creative rushes abound everywhere.

3. I want my own family. That will never happen in Wichita. Even if it did, we wouldn’t even be considered a legitimate entity in the state of Kansas. I look forward to putting the disappointments and rejections behind me and embracing truth in love.

4. I’m a liberal Democrat hipster vegan. And I kiss boys. The sate of California was pretty much made for me. Screw Sam Brownback and the never ending slog of brain-draining tea partiers…I’ll be voting for Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, and Jerry Brown next year!!

I’ll continue to be “in-between” for a few more months yet, but finally I feel certain about my focus. There’s a light inside of me and it will illuminate the path forward. I’m about to have an epic adventure—my own adventure. I don’t know who I will meet, what I will do, or where it will take me. It will be highly uncomfortable, but it will always be compelling.

This journey is now what defines me. And that is fucking exhilarating!