In my last post I alluded to the fact that I’ll be embarking on a journey into elective homelessness in the not too distant future. This is mostly true. At the end of August I gave up the lease on my NYC apartment, where I’d been living (happily?) for the past six years.
At the same time, I took my experiment with minimalism to the next level by selling or donating roughly seventy-five percent of my belongings. I no longer own anything that doesn’t fit in my car. I’ve still got a ways to go, but I feel like I’ve lost a hundred pounds in the past few weeks. There are still several things that I didn’t get around to selling before I had to be out of my apartment, but my parents have graciously allowed me to store those things in their basement for the time being. (I promise it won’t be too long!)
I also quit my job. I gave my one-month notice a couple of weeks ago and my last day is September 26th. While, in many respects, I feel like I won the job lottery when I got this gig, it’s definitely time for me to leave. And though I’ll miss certain aspects of having a day job (namely the regular paycheck and killer health insurance plan), I’m really excited by the prospect of not being a day-dwelling office monkey anymore.
What I am going to do with all of my newfound free time, you ask?
Well, I’m going to drive across the country. Not just across, all around. I want to see America. I’ve lived in the northeast my entire life and I’ve wanted to take a road trip like this since before I could legally drive. I figure, with any luck, I’ll never be this single or childless again, so it seems the perfect time to go.
I know some might think me irresponsible for quitting a good job, particularly in this economy. But, as I explained to my family, while my day job provides financial security, it also robs me of my energy and my ability to live as a creative person. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who are able to have both a job and a creative career, but unfortunately, I don’t seem to be one of them. For me, staying at a job that leaves me feeling empty at the end of the day just so I can make enough money to be able to afford an expensive apartment in a city I’m only living in so I can keep working at the job I don’t want… That’s irresponsible.
For the past eight months or so I’ve been building up my savings little by little. In June I implemented super strict austerity measures which, when combined with the added income from selling my stuff and the fact that I’ve been living debt-free since 2006, has allowed me to set aside a nice little chunk of change.
But wait, aren’t you an opera singer? Don’t you have to be in New York to do that?
To that I say there are plenty of singers who don’t live in New York. I’m quite sure my voice will still work wherever I choose to live. I don’t particularly care that I’m leaving at the start of the NYC audition season, either. Audition season will still be there next year. Besides, I might try to arrange a few in-house auditions during my travels, though that is not the goal of my trip.
What is my goal?
Simply put, I don’t have one. No, that’s not true. I just don’t have an easily measurable one. My goal is to edit my life. To turn down the background noise in the hope that I’ll be able to hear what my heart has to say. To stay open to new opportunities as they present themselves and live in the moment, rather than getting mired in the past, or too worried about the future.
There are still so many things that I aspire to do and be, but for once in my life I want to focus on the journey rather than the destination. As I tend to be the sort of person for whom things are black and white as opposed to gray, I’m taking that sentiment literally. I have no final destination in mind and no set time limit in which to find one.
That said I’m not just going to drive around aimlessly until the money runs out. There will be a bit of that, sure. But I’ve got a whole host of amazing friends and family all over the country that have invited me to stay with them, and I fully intend to take advantage of all offers, picking up temporary, part time work whenever I can. I’ve also got a few singing gigs lined up which helps.
Basically, I’m going to chase the wind for a while. If you’ve read Patrick Rothfuss, then you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, then you should. Yes, I’m talking to you, Nate.
Despite the uncertainty of my immediate future, I’ve never been more sure of a decision in my life. I’ve received so many little signs from the universe telling me that I’m doing the right thing. For instance, the day I officially decided to give up my apartment, my job and my stuff I was re-reading one of my all time favorite books and I came across this passage…
“No man is brave that has never walked a hundred miles. If you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror-glass. A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet introspection.”
– Patrick Rothfuss (The Wise Man’s Fear)
I sure hope he’s right.