The last time I visited family who lives in a rural area for a few days, I was struck by the absolute darkness that seemed to overtake the area as the sun set.
For someone who has lived his whole life in the big city, this darkness, when it first engulfs a rural area, is disconcerting, even ominous.
The same is true during the early morning hours before the sun starts to rise and I am awake and alone with my thoughts.
I feel a sense of foreboding each time I experience that absolute darkness.
Even though there are many more visible stars in such rural areas, the darkness is still all-encompassing.
When I woke up before dawn to go to the gym, backing out of the long driveway onto the street was an exercise in trust. I couldn’t see anything, and I had to trust that I would end up on the street without hitting the fence.
It reminded me of the leap of faith in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which was one of my favorite movies growing up. You may recall that before Indiana Jones could make it to the chamber where the Holy Grail was located, he had to make a leap of faith. It involved stepping across a long canyon where it appeared he would step to his death. Instead, there was a hidden bridge so, when he took his step, instead of falling hundreds of feet, he stepped onto a bridge to safety and made it to the Grail.
Maybe that example is a bit dramatic. Backing out of driveway is not exactly analogous, but our brains work in weird ways sometimes and that’s how I felt backing out of that driveway.
I’ve spent the last two months evaluating and reevaluating many parts of my life.
We live in a mobile society. If I were alive hundreds of years ago, it would be practically guaranteed that I would live the entirety of my days in the small village where I was born.
But, it is 2020 and we are not locked into place like our ancestors were. Instead, we get to create our own lives, and this often means moving far away from the place of our birth and recreating ourselves. Most of my family at this point is scattered in other places.
A big part of the evaluation I’ve been doing the past two months has been questioning where I want to be physically.
While I have moved to different homes several times, I’ve never lived outside of the city of my birth. When I chose where to go to college, I chose one in my community, and I also chose to go to law school in the same city.
New York City, for better or worse, has been my home for my entire life. There are some things about it I like. While the crowds might be disconcerting to some visitors, there is a certain energy that I’ve always been drawn to.
The frenetic pace of life and absolute confidence in our place as the center of the world can be intoxicating. I know that confidence comes across as arrogant, and it is one of the things that non-New Yorkers hate about it and its residents, but when you read about New York City’s history, you see that it’s always been this way and is a consequence of how it was settled in comparison to how the other colonies were first settled.
There is a character that is unique and growing up here and all its flaws are just part of normal life to me.
With that said, I have been struggling with whether this is where I want to spend the second half of my life, particularly in recent weeks as we’ve seen that many of the aspects of the city that make it such a mecca, also makes it extraordinarily vulnerable.
In truth, I’ve always been a bit hesitant of change, any change. I like feeling familiarity, and the idea of moving from the only place I’ve known gives me a feeling of trepidation.
To be sure, there is much about it I don’t like. The dominant political ideology is one I can never agree with, and the fact that the Second Amendment doesn’t really apply here is problematic.
Meditating on the leap of faith I mentioned above, I’ve been questioning myself to determine whether it is time to consider a change and take my own leap of faith into the unknown.
If I were to relocate, I don’t want to move to another city; instead I would want to go somewhere that is the opposite of urban.
Am I prepared to embrace that literal (not metaphorical) darkness that seems to exist outside of the city during the night and early morning?
Am I letting a fear of the unknown and a desire to not experience unfamiliarity stop me from even considering something that might be better for my family and me?
Is the darkness even as ominous as I think it is, or is it just my mind grasping for excuses?
Is darkness, which is natural when the sun goes down, worse than the unnatural and artificial light I’m accustomed to?
Am I finally ready to make my own leap of faith into the unknown and unknowable?
These are the questions I continue work through. It’s been a productive process. I keep coming back to the thought that leaps of faith are necessary and lead to great growth.
I know the last time I had to make such a decision and stepped into the unknown, when my friends and I decided to open a gym, I made the right choice. In the words of the knight who was the guardian of the Holy Grail in the Indiana Jones movie, “You have chosen wisely.”
In my heart, I think I know the right decision, and I’m sure it’s obvious to anyone reading. As I think through it, I’m reminded of Bukowski’s famous line from Factotum: “If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
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