Running to Stand Still
Those of you from the 80’s or earlier might know this song by U2.
My life can be characterized by never-ending movement.
Florida. Ohio. Michigan. Georgia. Israel. New York. Connecticut. Georgia (again). Florida (again). California. And, now, Florida…
I was studying Torah in yeshiva in Israel. I was in my fifth or sixth yeshiva stop. We were on a road trip to the mystical city of Tzfat in the north of Israel. It was just a weekend trip. But when the trip ended, I just didn’t want to go back with my yeshiva.
So, I didn’t.
I said seeya, and I stayed in Tzfat for a while.
When I got back, I got a talking to from one of my rabbis who was teaching me Talmud.
He knew of my yeshiva hopping tendency, and he said:
You know, there’s something wrong with you. You can’t stay still.
Or something like that.
He observed what seemed like my inability to stay put. Most yeshiva students spent their entire time learning Torah in one place.
But my path was–is–different.
I was searching for something… truth, perhaps.
And I wanted to get the deepest, most real experience possible. I left each of those places when I discovered that the truth I was searching for wasn’t there; it was corrupted.
Ultimately, as you can imagine, my search went in vain. None of these places (or role models in the form of rabbis) met my standards.
I left Israel realizing that I had lost myself; lost my connection to that small voice inside of me, that’s in each and every one of us, that guides us home. (If, that is, we are sensitive enough–i.e., undistracted enough–to hear it.)
Running to stand still.
Running to find home.
Kind of ironic… if you stop and think about it.
So, here I am–
back in Florida–
WTF am I doing here?
I only came here to get out of the crazy sex commune (where little sex was happening, btw).
I could have tried staying in cali, but it was never my plan to be there, and my major option would have been another “gig” that would have left me broke and a little stuck.
I guess I am thinking of traveling again–
this time moving abroad (again)–because I only truly feel alive when I’m exploring; when I’m somewhere new and exciting.
I have this distinct memory of dating a woman in grad school for psychology. We were at a festival in Atlanta. It was a gorgeous fall Saturday afternoon. She had a big smile on her face, and she asked me how I was doing.
I replied something to the effect that I was scared of being too comfortable. That was my biggest fear.
The implication: she was having a great time, and I was telling her that my experience, walking around with her and projecting into the future of having a family and settling down, was akin to dying for me.
She got upset and pretty much left me on the spot.
Neale D. Walsch, author of Conversations with God, says that we should “speak our truth as soon as we know it.”
I’ve done my best to follow this advice ever since. And it has cost me a lot of potentially good times with women. But it has also allowed them to choose differently (instead of me leading them on, pretending to be interested just so that I could get laid or whatever).
So, for me, settling down is akin to death.
Maybe this comes from some kind of unhealthy idealization.
I don’t doubt it.
It’s definitely not healthy.
But then again, maybe unconsciously choosing comfort again and again and again ain’t that healthy, either!
Right before coming to Florida, I had an offer from my brother to move back here, live in his empty condo and do some easy work with him. It was like an easy opportunity–and I said no straight away.
Cuz Florida, that’s why.
But then I talked to my good friend at the commune, Clemmy Cuckatoo, and she was like, “Alex… you always choose what’s hard in life; why not, for a change, try what’s easy?”
It really got me thinking: I had always chosen the more difficult and challenging path in life. I was doing that because it made me feel more alive.
Comfort is death.
I have always chosen to be out of my comfort zone.
But she challenged me: perhaps being comfortable is out of your comfort zone–and that’s where your real challenge lies.
If I really believed in self-growth and getting out of my comfort zone, maybe coming to Florida and having an experience that didn’t involve a lot of struggle would be, weirdly, out of my comfort zone–and therefore a worthwhile endeavor.
I’m complicated… I know.
So, here I am. Six months in, and I’m already ready to jet to some other country. I’m thinking Iceland… or maybe Paris. Or… British Columbia?
I don’t know.
So, given that it’s my perpetual propensity to run.. I am going to sit down now, at this cafe, with a notepad and think of a list of creative ideas that would bring more excitement to my life in the here and now.
Ready, set… GO.
PS. I challenge you to do the same.