One of the best things you can do when you feel like you’re in a rut is to change your environment.
But Karen, you say, vacations are expensive and not all of us are irresponsible like you with all the gallivanting. We have responsibilities! Full-time jobs! Mouths to feed! Cats to be rejected by!
Chill out, bro. I get it.
I mean, there are entire industries billed as the antidote to all that without requiring us to leave our apartments: Hi, YouTube, the TV and all the drugs.
I’m talking about changing the environment in yo mind!
Just kidding. (Sidebar: I just started meditating, and I still have no idea how to get ahold of my so-called monkey brain that keeps dragging me to ominous and deliciously naughty places while I should instead be listening to my breath.)
What I’m REALLY talking about is taking a walk. It’s lo-fi. You don’t have to go super far. It’s accessible by almost anyone with some form of mobility.
So yes, whenever I’m in a rut, I take a walk.
I don’t look at my phone, though I do bring it in case I get kidnapped because these are the kinds of things women think about.
I don’t listen to music, though I do sometimes put earbuds in without playing anything so I can pretend to not hear creepy solicitors soliciting, because these are the kinds of things women think about.
I give myself no goals. Like, none. I wander.
I do take my camera because it’s basically my security blanket. It makes me look like I’m ~*~*artistically~*~*~ wandering, not, like, lurking. Though lurking does have its place in society, if you happen to look 12 and non-threatening though I’m sure my face will drop any day now.
I do this alone or with someone. On this particular day, I was with Franco, who’s totally used to me stopping mid-conversation and taking off in some random direction. On that note, don’t take someone who talks a lot or complains a lot because this is supposed to be a chill experience, not Let’s Go To Complaint Town and Rage-Wander.
At some point, if you keep doing this enough, the thoughts come.
One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is being in your 30s in NYC. Yes, you can be in your 30s anywhere and have the same thoughts. Or you can be any age and have the same thoughts. But being in your 30s in NYC is also its own thing.
It’s kind of like tangible social media. On social media, though, when you get tired of looking at everyone doing awesome things online, you can just delete the app, go away for a while, and come back when you’re feeling sufficiently detoxed so you can repeat the unhealthy cycle.
But you can’t turn off NYC.
Everywhere you look, people are striving and succeeding at astronomical levels. It’s just that kind of place. Maybe they’re failing, but, like on social media, no one talks about that openly. There’s always a performance of some kind. I’m doing great! Everything’s fine! I love working a lot and burning out on a regular basis, shit’s dandy!
But that stuff bores me.
After all, a writer’s job is to cut through the bullshit. The truth is uncomfortable and ugly sometimes, and it can make you sad. But only from that place can good work come.
It’s the kind of work that says, Hey, life sucks sometimes. I can’t say there’s going to be an uplifting moral in the end or some trite quote that sums everything up neatly, or even that it’ll all be OK. The act of writing this is enough.
I truly believe it’s the most optimistic form of being, because it’s not starting from lies. Like, how optimistic can someone really be when they’re lying to themselves and us? That’s what we call an unreliable narrator, which is totally fun—in books. In real life, that person’s just a liar.
The older I get, the more I’m realizing that people actually like the facade. It’s comforting and fun. It’s certain.
Certainty is easy.
“This thing I’m doing right now is the thing I’m supposed to be doing.”
Deciding to be certain, falsely or prematurely, means we don’t have to think about the opportunities we turned down, the jobs we didn’t take, the people we’ve left, and the people we could have become.
But it doesn’t have to be that.
Being in your 30s in NYC can also mean continuing to strive a little longer, settle down a little later, and keeping at it. Whatever it is.
It’s sitting with the discomfort and letting the uncertainty ride out.
You think: Maybe it’ll all work out.
But maybe it won’t.
For now, I walk.