What’s Your Place: The Art of Pursuing a Life Worth Living
Essential Factors Related to Pursuing Your Physical Place
Having the luxury, or opportunity, if you will, to be capable and willing to embark on a move is an awesome, exciting and challenging situation to be in life, and it officially kicks off into its first high gear at high school graduation.
If you are responsible for only yourself and are a mobile, risk-taking person open to embarking on a life-changing move to a new environ that meets your personal expectations, take pride in the certainty that you are standing on a wonderful life plateau with thrilling vistas marked by enormous opportunities.
Associate Editor of the Atlantic’s CityLab Jessica Leigh Hester might disagree. In her creatively worded opening graph of an article headlined “13 Tips to Make Moving Slightly Less Hellish,” she wrote: “The process of packing up an apartment and schlepping stuff to a new location is enough to reduce an otherwise competent adult to a crumpled, blubbering shell of someone who used to think it was a good idea to buy a lot of books.” [i]
I take an entirely different approach, one in which your attitude makes all the difference. Yes, of course, the physical and mental exertion required to make a move is not exactly a pleasant experience, but you can at least look at it as an exciting adventure and catalyst for a new and exciting change that is well worth all the effort that goes into it. (Incidentally, if it is still online when you read this, check outwww.citylab.com for some excellent reporting about cities all over the world.)
Maybe you are considering your life’s next steps, and you are seeking a major change to a new place that is more interesting or more in tune with your authentic self? Or, maybe your current place is no longer consistent with the career-advancement and living possibilities you have envisioned for yourself, or your current employment has gone through a change that you are not happy with?
And, of course, you could be an empty nester who is nearing retirement, as I am, and you simply want to move to a better place than where you currently reside; someplace with nicer weather (I’m currently in a nice suburb of Buffalo, NY called Williamsville) or a place that is smaller; or a place that is near family that have relocated away from where you settled; or a place that is diverse and has a more accepting, progressive mindset in comparison to where you are now, a place where everyone is considered equal and given the same rights and respect.
Perhaps you may have experienced moving around when you were younger, fresh out of college or high school, looking for a place to set your roots? I did not realize how great of a period that was for me until looking back in hindsight much later in my adult life. While it was certainly a time of struggle, confusion and high risk-taking (see Living Large sections throughout) that could have easily turned out very badly, it was also an exhilarating time when everything was new and fascinating.
To quote author Edward Abbey, a Utah park ranger who has often been compared to Thoreau, from his 1968 book Desert Solitaire: “Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome — there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment.” [ii]
In essence, regardless of your current station in life, the limits of your “human capacity” can be found in your ability and willingness to be a risk-taker in search of your ideal place. But, in addition to having a penchant for taking a dive into the unknown, you must also pursue this journey with some plain common sense, as provided by Clayton M. Christensen, author of How Will You Measure Your Life? He reminds us that it takes time to find our purpose in life, a bit of risk-taking and certain openness and awareness of opportunities that arrive on our doorstep that often are not so easily recognizable.
“Strategy almost always emerges from a combination of deliberate and unanticipated opportunities,” he explains. “What’s important is to get out there and try stuff until you learn where your talents, interests and priorities begin to pay off. When you find out what really works for you, then it is time to flip from an emergent strategy to a deliberate one.” [iii]
Getting out there and trying stuff with a risk-taking mindset also requires that you have a certain curious nature in your bones. Put simply, you have to be both a risk taker and have a very curious mind in order to find your ideal place.
[iii] Clayton M. Christensen. (May 2012). How Will You Measure Your Life.http://www.amazon.com/How-Will-Measure-Your-Life/dp/0062102419/
To be published this Winter 2015/16.
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