For as long as I can remember I’ve had a restless streak. I was ready to hit the open road at any time and the only things that held me back were either responsibilities or lack of money. This restlessness isn’t just about visiting different places, it also applies to living in different places. I don’t have a sense of “roots” or of belonging in any particular place – maybe it all started 56 years ago on the Queen Mary when my parents immigrated to the United States from England or maybe, as my Mom says, “it’s just the gypsy in my soul”. It could even be genetic since Mom says she has always had the same kind of urges.
I have moved many times in my adult life and I’m sure I would have moved even more if I wasn’t grounded by my sense of responsibility to my son and, of course, financial constraints. I actually enjoy the feeling of settling into a new place and finding my way around a strange town. I like the way my furniture looks so different in a new place. I even like the feeling that no one knows me in the grocery store. In 1993 I moved from New Jersey to St. Augustine, Florida and, for a few years, I was content and felt like I was in the “right” place. I had been longing to move to a warmer climate for several years and I fell in love with the old city during a vacation so, I decided to take the plunge. As a single person, I was making the move alone with limited funds, which was scary, plus I only knew one person in St. Augustine and I had no job. My parents were upset with me for selling my “nice little house” and giving up a “good job” but, as has happened at other times, a couple of factors converged to create the catalyst that pushed me into a “reinvention” (oops – there’s that word again!). Not all the moves I have made turned out as well as the move to Florida – I found a “good job” that turned into a rewarding 16 year career. I built a home that I love and enjoy living in. I met my best friend and some other very nice people. I have lived here longer than anywhere else and I used to think I would want to spend the rest of my life here (do you feel a but coming?) … BUT, about 6 years ago I started getting that old restless feeling again. I wanted to quit my job and move to a different place – I wanted a new beginning again. If you’ve been following my blog, you know there were obstacles in the way and I wasn’t able to do either of those things but that doesn’t mean the restlessness went away!
As we all know, in 2008 the economy took a nose dive from which we still haven’t recovered so I decided I better be practical. I longed to move – I had my sights set on the mountains of North Carolina – but, the housing market tanked and I couldn’t sell my house for a decent price and then things deteriorated to the point where now I would have to pay to get rid of it! That isn’t the only obstacle because, even if the housing market improved significantly, my Mom doesn’t want to move and I certainly wouldn’t leave her here by herself. I decided to stick it out at my job until I was old enough for early retirement. I knew that, even though I still wouldn’t be able to relocate, I would be more content with my life if I didn’t have to continue in a job which no longer interested me and that has been true … for the most part. I still have the desire to start again in a new place and there is always a suppressed restlessness that lives below the surface of my conscious mind and periodically emerges to torment me. To quote Mom again “You can’t have everything”.
Part of life, no matter how old you are or what part of the journey you’re on, is learning to deal with disappointment and accepting the fact that you can’t always have or do whatever you want. My latest reinvention is a great experience in so many ways and I am eternally grateful that I am able to spend my time doing the things I enjoy but, one of my challenges has been finding ways to deal with my restless nature. If I had unlimited finances I would buy an RV and travel all over this beautiful country and I would buy a second home in the mountains so I could take off whenever I need a change of scenery and climate; however, that isn’t possible so I have developed other ways to satisfy the gypsy in my soul. I take a couple of vacations and short getaways each year and keep myself immersed in creative work and in learning new things but, most importantly, I put a lot of effort into changing how I experience my life. I try to keep my focus on gratitude. I remind myself that I am fortunate to be healthy and free and have everything I need. I try to keep my mind from wandering off into the land of want, because that’s where discontent and disappointment live. As Eckhart Tolle said, you have only three choices if you don’t like your situation 1) leave it, 2) change it, or 3) experience it differently.
Lately I have been missing the crisp autumn air of more northern climes so next week Stella and I will be enjoying a few days in a small mountain town in North Carolina. We’ll stroll the old-fashioned Main Street and visit some waterfalls and maybe even see some fall colors. It’s not a trip to Europe or even an extended RV tour of the United States and I won’t be looking for a vacation home while I’m there but the gypsy in my soul will be very happy to go!
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