There are moments in our lives that we look back and realize we were at an inflection point.
Now is one of those moments.
A few months ago my wife and I made the decision to leave New York City and move to Ohio so she can pursue her dream. I’ve had the opportunity to live mine – writing a book, connecting with readers all over the world, starting multiple businesses, and now it’s her turn.
While over time I grew fond of New York and it was just starting to feel like home, the reality is while I like New York, I’m not a New Yorker.
I found everything about 40% more expensive and 40% more difficult than anywhere I’ve lived before. When I moved there, my friends who live in the city said it would take a few years to adjust. They were right.
A quick back of the napkin calculation and moving from NYC to Ohio will reduce our expenses by over 60% and allow us to save more money and live our ideal lifestyle.
I’ve been craving a slower pace of life. The things I love to do most – write, read, play guitar, walk my dog, and bike, I can do anywhere.
I’ve also lived in cities for the past 17 years. This weekend I bought a grill and a hammock. I have a garage to store my van and mopeds.
As I’ve written about before, but remember in this moment, all of those hours I spent working so hard, all of those sacrifices I made, they gave me an opportunity. It wasn’t about the money; it was about building a life I love.
It took me a little while to figure out what that looks like, but it looks like this.
I hung the hammock between two trees, read a book, and fell asleep. I woke up an hour later when my dog came outside and licked my hand. It’s the first time he’s had his own yard. The first time I’ve lived in my own house.
Freedom is freedom of mind
We have this idea that freedom means having unlimited choices. Living in New York City you can have almost anything. But that just wore me out.
What I actually want are fewer choices. Sure, I want to wake up and be able to do whatever I want, but in reality, there’s actually a handful of things a love to do. Instead of being able to do everything, I just want to do those things.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past year is simply that. Do you what you love. Now. In this moment.
I used to spend so much time worrying about the future – whether I would have enough money to be free forever. I wasted so much time worrying. But looking back, so much of the freedom I craved was already within me.
Instead of worrying about will I be free in the future, I simply ask myself: Am I free in this moment?
I used to always want to be somewhere else – wouldn’t it be great to backpack through India or Alaska, or do a silent retreat in Bali.
But I don’t need to go anywhere. I’m already here. As the great British Zen Philosopher and entertainer Alan Watt’s said “This is It”.
The only thing you’ll take with you everywhere is your body and mind
So finally, instead of just chasing the next thing, I’m slowing down to do the things I love. I’m excited to spend the next few months writing book two and sitting in my hammock. Taking my dog for long walks. Growing some vegetables. Sitting down and writing a few new songs.
While we always have a choice in every moment, some are weightier than others. I can feel the weight of this moment.
So little is certain in these times, in this life. As my good friend and teacher Vicki Robin says “Freedom only exists within limits.” None of us know how long we’ll be here. Limits are good. They keep us together.
I have a sense it’s only going to get more uncertain in the coming months and years. Find your people. Love them. Do more of what you love. Don’t take anyone’s crap. Free your mind. Help others. So many people haven’t had the opportunities you’ve had, we’ve had. But everyone deserves a life they love.
What are your limits? Are you free in this moment?