the big life
On my cross-country journey I visited a friend who is living a “Northern Exposure” type of life in a tiny, isolated, but culturally interesting town. The smallness and remoteness of the place is getting to him, but he said he doesn’t care that much about a social life because he lives with his girlfriend, and she is his best friend.
I compared his past five years with mine. He moved to a tiny town; I moved to a sprawling metropolis of seventeen million people. He concentrated on his prestigious but quiet job, a few solo hobbies, a small number of acquaintances, and his girlfriend. I dated a ton of people, travelled in and out of state, learned to surf, took endless dance classes, attended numerous cultural activities, learned the history of a sprawling region, tried out a variety of restaurants, joined at least a dozen social groups, explored a social scene centered on performance and fame, opened a large new facility, managed a bunch of people, and helped organize a fair amount of cultural events.
Would I trade my broader canvas of experience for his smaller, but no less interesting, one? Probably not, but at the end of the day, nobody cares that I stretched myself almost to the breaking point, and I am envious that he is in a loving relationship while I am not.
I am proud of what I’ve done but, going forward, I hope to make peace with my all-too-human limitations and to become okay with a smaller life.
Even excluding the relationship, I’d still much rather his life than your “broader canvas of experience” which just sounds stressful and exhausting to me. But I just put that down to different personality types. No lifestyle is superior to another, just different. People tend to find the style that suits them, and while some people would be completely bored with my lifestyle, I’d be a wreck if I had to live a more “exciting” life. To each their own.
Probably makes a difference if you deliberately choose to live a small and simple life as opposed to being forced into it by circumstances, but I still think it is a nice way to live. You may even find yourself addicted to it before long.
I’m choosing a middle point between the two. For the sake of my health, I decided to leave the megalopolis!