I started a new life recently and I’ve been getting a lot of questions about it. To answer those questions indirectly is to make this point:
Once, I was asked how much time I spend outside my comfort zone. Since then, I’ve struggled to define what my comfort zone even is, let alone how much time I spent outside of it.
I am outside my comfort zone when there is lack of movement. Not exactly stillness -- to bring Pulp Fiction to mind, stillness and silence are comforts and achievements in their own ways, whether with or without another person. My introverted and reflective sensitive artist self would agree. I know how to sit still and I do it well -- I have very generous parents who let me learn how to be bored for nearly two decades. Like any normal person, I find peace in nights spent on the couch with people you love. But then there’s that metaphor about gaining inertia after being idle for too long, and it’s an idea I’ve struggled with since I learned what existential crises were. Lack of movement is lack of progress in building relationships and experiences.
It’s the reason my lifelines are rooted in punk shows, in long highway drives, in traveling and living out of temporary rooms for long periods of time. There is one common thread in all these things I love, which is constant movement -- a certain level of instability and unpredictability. It takes a certain amount of experience to be aware of the constant elements and unwritten rules attached to these seemingly unpredictable environments, which helps with being prepared. But I’ve realized that I settle in perhaps too quickly to packed venues full of energetic strangers, to unknown roads and exit signs, to unfamiliar routes and room arrangements.
There’s a paranoid survivalist in me that never wants to get too comfortable, that always wants to remain as adaptable as possible in any situation, in any group of people, in any place in life. To be ready to pack up all the essentials and go where I need to go. It’s how I learn and grow, and it’s also how I survive. But it’s all the more possible with a strong foundation somewhere. Remembering that foundation is key to being able to carry on with this weird, crazy life that I’ve agreed to.
This past summer, before starting a new job with promises of greater indulgence, I read several pieces of literature advocating for more streamlined, more purposeful lives. I suppose that, above all, constant movement allows me to be as less materialistic as possible. When traveling, it’s common to pack lightly, to focus on the essentials in order to fit it all into one suitcase. In recent years I’ve learned not to buy souvenirs at all unless those souvenirs are food and drink that can be consumed before taking up too much physical space. When I go to shows I’m serious about -- serious about giving my all and wearing my physical self out in order to achieve pure euphoria -- it often involves abandoning all my belongings, except for, or often including, my keys and cell phone.
I learned long ago how to not be sentimental about things. I take inventory of my possessions (and sadly enough, my social media counts) constantly. I clean out my closets annually. After I graduated college, I got rid of everything. I make efforts not to waste things on a daily basis, which ends up being environmentally conscious, but in reality I just can’t live with any excess. Words and memories and the person I am now are the legacy of everything tangible I’ve gotten rid of. Instead, there might be a reason I maintain a bad habit of spending $500 a month on entertainment.