January 31, 2024

The Need for Change

A handful of times each year I have a strong desire for a major change in my life. More often than not, Rachel squashes these wishes, but they do not seem to fully subside. I wonder if it has to do with getting older, becoming complacent, or possibly just my personality, but I have this need or want for something more. Both my wife and I were born and raised in New Jersey. I had a few short stints elsewhere during college, but never truly got to experience life in another part of the country or the world. For years I have longed to relocate somewhere other than New Jersey, but it seems to be no more than a pipe dream these days.

Maybe I approach the situation the wrong way, or maybe I am being naive, but I never seem to make any sort of headway when discussing this with my wife. She basically tells me no, and that she does not want to move or  leave New Jersey. I understand that we have children, family, friends and careers here, but if not now then when? Is this something that we should have discussed or attempted earlier? Do people successfully relocate at our age in our position? Is this something that other people feel as well, or is this just me?

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If I dug deeply to truly understand my desire to get out of New Jersey, I think it would primarily be rooted in a desire for a different pace of life. My entire existence has felt as though I was born a hundred years too late. I often long for a life without technology, traffic, immediacy, and complications. If I could trade what I have for a quiet cabin in the woods with primitive means and utilities, I would jump on it. The only thing that I really may need is a dirtbike or two! Other than that, I will be good. I want to be able to slow down, spend time with my children, enjoy nature, and be present. Is there a life like this that can be had these days? Am I being foolish and naive to think that a simpler life with less complications would provide for a healthier and more enjoyable existence? Am I selfish for wanting this when my family may not have the same desires?

For as long as I can remember I have dreamt of living a quiet, peaceful, and private existence. Maybe it was too much Henry David Thoreau in high school. As a matter of fact, I re-read Walden two years ago. As I get older, I realize just how fickle time truly is, and I feel an even greater sense of wanting change. I fear my life will consist of going through the motions, paying the bills, and dying not experiencing what I truly wanted. I fear instilling the wrong principles and values in my children and them succumbing to the system and the standard of what everyone expects of you. The societal portrayal of success. At the end of the day we will have a few acres, some money in the bank, and neighbors up our ass observing our every move. Maybe I am crazy, it just is not for me. 

I want some privacy and some stillness. I want a life without the need for more, bigger, and better. I want to be contempt with silence. I recently came across a quote from a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh which read, “Anxiety, the illness of our time, comes primarily from our inability to dwell in the present moment.” Holy crap does that make me think deeply! Thirty years ago, things were so much different. I was eight years old and we did not have cable tv, internet, cell phones, or the constant stimulation of today. My kids do not know what it is like to be bored. To have to be inside their own heads. They do not know how to cope or even understand their own feelings, because they can distract themselves with TV, internet, medication, or tablets. Is there any avoiding this ever again?

Maybe Rachel is right after all. Maybe running away from New Jersey is no different than my kids picking up their tablet when they do not like what I have to say to them. Maybe life is no different elsewhere. Can the life that I desire and the simplicity be obtained right where I am? It sure as heck does not feel like it, but maybe that has nothing to do with where I am physically as much as where I am mentally. Does the change that I desire so badly need to happen internally? I am not sure if I know how to answer that. I am not sure if I ever will. I do know that the version of myself that currently exists is not the version that I want forever. I am not who I want to be or where I want to be entirely. 

Sometimes I struggle with these feelings, because my wife does not experience similar thoughts  or emotions. She does not have anxiety or depression or mental hiccups as I do. I would be curious to hear if any of our listeners have similar feelings throughout the year? If larger changes helped, or if the changes needed to come from within? Right now I do not have the answers, but I would love to find a lifestyle that suits my desires more appropriately. 

And if you enjoyed this blog, be sure to check out Tyler's thoughts on the slowing renovation market and the secret weapon every trim carpenter needs.

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