A Snowy December Segue
So 2010 is just about over. For me it’s been a very full year in a very full life. Many of my efforts are coming to fruition. I’ve managed to reduce my personal debt (including student loans) by some $10 grand this year. I completed a commitment to myself to go through every one of my possessions (you’ve got to understand I’ve been a pack rat all A my life, and had accumulated some 55 boxes containing thousands and thousands of everything, mostly in the form of newspapers; magazines; and writings of all sorts) and have succeeded in throwing most of them out. I continued to build my practice treating individuals and couples. I continued my part in building a local community of fellow-travellers and explorers.
I started this blog back in March and have faithfully posted to it every week. I had a great vacation, cruising in the Caribbean with Shelley. For our 10th anniversary (of our first date) I got her a cat. (She sometimes tells me “Romeo’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever gotten!” Hearing such a thing from your wife — what’s that worth?) We’ve also gone to some fantastic overnight parties and have had a blast. Our health has for the most part been great.
Actually, let’s stop right there. If I could only report that last sentence, dayeinu! (a Hebrew word meaning, it would be enough!). My father used to say, “If you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything!” Indeed, how can you have a good year, or a good life, if you don’t? For me this also means mental health. If you suffer daily from angst, worry, anger or melancholy that intrudes on your mood, you then lack a mental quality of life and this will infect your moments, days and years. That’s why I don’t understand people who settle for less than a great life, and who won’t do whatever it takes to get there. Because we’re here to make the most of it and help others do the same.
But I digress.
I’ve also been Captain this year of my men’s team The Fire Brothers, a talented, quirky and cantankerous bunch who’ve saved my spiritual butt on more than one occasion. I’ve also worked hard this year on my issues around my father; my lack of patience with myself; and my fear of speaking my mind.
In addition I’ve also come to appreciate this year that I’m someone who has bloomed where he has been planted. I’ve stuck it out by staying here, in New York and in Brooklyn, for decades, with my friends and my team and my profession. And so I’ve been able to weave myself into the fabric of life here. I make a difference — to my wife and family; to my patients (hopefully) and to my readers (ditto). To my men’s community; and to my very special community and extended family of friends.
So why do I feel so empty sometimes?
I’m meeting my goals and living a full and wide life, but I feel something’s missing. Now this would probably fit into the category of what my friend Danny Elder calls “First World problems.” I mean, I am sitting on top of the world with all I’ve got. (And you, too, no?) But something is definitely off for me. Out of balance. It’s been great to have all these ways to give, but sometimes this can be defensive, a subtle way of keeping people at a distance, and a way to keep from receiving, which requires a more open stance.
And further, and more fundamentally, I’ve fallen into being a human doing (an old habit) and have gotten lost in it. Much like this city – overworked and snowed under. I engage all over the place, but for now at least I feel I’ve lost my sense of direction. It’s true I’ve got a lot in my life, but I’m still hungry for more. (As I write this now I wonder if the opposite is true – if perhaps I’m hungry for less. My day, my desk, my world seems so cluttered that my spirit feels smothered.) I’m the kind of guy who always needs an overriding purpose, a deep sense of meaning and a quixotic goal that challenges all my abilities. In other words, a dream. And a need to make a major contribution. I need all this along with a sense of challenge, risk and adventure, and right now I don’t have it.
It’s funny. Everything’s working well in my life, but there’s something amiss. Like a well-tuned (and vintage) car, with gas and passengers, humming along well on an open road, but where is it going?
So I’m finding at this blizzardly holiday segue between the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one, that it’s a good time for me to take my own advice and slow down, so I can rejuvenate and recalibrate — or simply catch up to myself.
And this is where I find myself at the end of 2010. Blessed many times over, engaged, and also restless and ready, because something inside of me is stirring and yearning to set sail for a new horizon.