Every night for the past several weeks I’ve spent an hour or two with a tight chest, gripped by anxiety. Anxiety over completely uprooting my life. Anxiety over the idea of taking the job, anxiety over not taking the job.
This Dear Cary column spoke to me as it addresses indecision, fear, loneliness, change, and what constitutes a meaningful life:
At all costs, preserve the basic outlines of your basically happy life.
There will be moments when you are lonely. You will have moments of dissatisfaction. Accept these.
Part of your challenge is spiritual. Part is philosophical. It involves accepting the moment-to-moment phenomena of your own consciousness. Out in the country it is hard to distract yourself from your own thoughts. That is basically a good thing but it is not amusing. There will be times when nothing is amusing. At such times, ask what is going on. What hunger is at work? What dissatisfaction is at the edge, gnawing? Just inquiring will help. If you know what it is, you can live with it. If you don’t know what it is, you may misinterpret it and set off to satisfy it when it is in fact something else. It may be loneliness or sadness. It may be your baseline existential awareness that life is fleeting and mysterious. It may be pensiveness or it may be dread or sadness from some emotional loss that can’t be helped. It may be a hormonal fluctuation. It may be the natural tiredness that comes with increasing age.
And remember: You are not just doing this for yourself. You are, in fact, creating a way of living that others can follow. As more of us realize that our lives are not happy or sustainable, more of us will turn to people like you and ask, How do you do it? What are the pitfalls? How do you get laid?