Saving my life

You know the fairytales where the beautiful princess is saved by the handsome prince? I never liked those stories. I always thought the princess should have gotten down from that stupid tower and saved herself. That’s what I would have done.

Which brings me to why I just quit my job.

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I’m changing my life. It’s a silly thing for a grown woman to do, really. It’s not that my life is bad: A job where I work in a clean, safe office. A paycheck that meets my needs and allows me to save for retirement. I have friends and family, education and entertainment. I go on one or two great vacations a year, mostly to countries I’ve never been to. Until recently, I had a condo filled with furniture, knick-knacks and closets overflowing with clothes. Most of the world goes to bed dreaming of the problems I complain of.

I’ve had every thing I want. It’s the American Dream. And it feels like it is slowly sucking the life right out of me.

The problem isn’t the American dream. It’s that it wasn’t MY dream. I don’t want more things. I want more experiences. I want to DO. I’m tired of being sensible and stoic and boring and predicable. I’m tired of focusing on dressing warmly, eating healthy, saving for retirement, keeping my head down and dreaming of my next vacation. This isn’t who I want to be.

And the more things I have, the more responsible I act, the less time I spend doing what used to bring me joy, even when I did it badly. Reading and writing poetry; Drawing and watercolors; Singing; Turning over stones in the woods just to see what’s under them; Making up stories; Looking at the stars and watching the sunrise; Reading myths and believing in them just enough that I could see the edges of the stories in the corner of my vision when I turned my head quickly. When did I stop? Is this what being a grown up is about? Is this all there is?

Helen Keller once said that life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all. It is no one else’s fault if I’ve been living an empty life. It’s been my choice. And now I’m choosing something else. It may turn out to be a horrible mistake. But it will be my mistake.

Friday, I gave notice at my job. They were gracious and we took a few days to negotiate my last work day.

Soon, I’m going to go for a walk. A very long walk along the Appalachian Trail. Then I’m going to  explore the world. I want to do it slowly so I have the time to learn about places and people and history. I want to eat the local food, dress like the natives, hear their creation myths and gods. I want to learn what makes them laugh. I don’t expect to have much money. I may never again own a house or a car or fancy clothes. This isn’t glamorous or glorious. I’ll probably spend far more time dirty and cold and hungry than I have been. I’ll certainly be lost and maybe even lonely. But maybe I’ve been comfortable for too long. Certainly I’ve been eating more than I need. I just know I have to try something else before I forget that change is possible.

So it’s all very simple really. I’m changing my life for no other reason than I want to. For no other reason than to save myself.