Learning to Wait – deliberating about moving (part 2)

Alley_in_Nachlaot

The area of Jerusalem that we actually want to live in. (Wikimedia Commons)

As I wrote about in the last post, we are considering moving.

Over the course of the week and a few discussions with my husband and some trusted friends, we have decided we want to live in Jerusalem.

No sooner had we decided that, than we had found, what seemed like, a perfect offer on a place. No crippling real-estate agent fees, a price better than what we are paying now and convenient to the Jerusalem Light Rail, for me to commute into the University. It was two bedrooms, with a spectacular view of the Judean Hills… and, wait for it – dog friendly.

I was basically ready to sign the lease.

However, when we went to visit, we found that the area was further away than we thought from the centres of action in Jerusalem, and well, how should I put it, er….*searches vocabulary for polite terms*…. not the socioeconomic bracket I prefer to reside in…*cough cough – looses all working-class credentials*.  As I said to my husband as we left the building with fallen faces and a two-hour bus ride back home ahead of us, “this might be my budget, but it’s not my scene.”

***

This week I had a long conversation with a wise friend, who told me how for many years, she felt that she has been “a year ahead” in terms of what she wants for herself and her family. She’ll decide she wants something. It sounds outlandish at the time and is shot down, only to find that the whole family spontaneously gravitates towards it a year later.

As I reflected on this, I actually had to choke back laughter. In my case, was it a year? How about two… or even five?

I was caught by a sudden recollection of my last year in high school. I remember complaining to anyone who would listen how I was over school, done with being treated like a kid. I wanted to be 18, legal, out-of-home, fully grown up – yesterday! When the bell rang for the last time on my final exam at school, I lept up, drove off and a matter of weeks later, I was set up in my own place in Sydney.

I jumped from place to place, moved in too fast with a boyfriend, landed a good job, quit it for a better one, quit that a year latter for an even better one. By this stage, I was thoroughly embroiled in the organisational politics of one of Australia’s largest political parties and climbing the ladder. This journey took me to the National Campaign Office of the then Prime Minister, glamourous advertising firms and the vice presidency of the youth wing of the Party. The journey culminated with my own attempt to win office on the local council level. I won an impressive percentage of the vote, but a number of bad decisions, as well as just the sheer luck and charm of the democratic process meant that I wasn’t elected.

Burned out with the weight of said bad decisions and reeling with shock and embarassment, I shortly after left an active role in the party.

I was 20 years old.

I remember that throughout this whole story, well-meaning people told me to slow down. I remember once, a young man from the party, actually taking me out to dinner to caution me against burning myself out and to make sure that I was engaged in other projects.

I remember being highly offended.

I remember deciding to make the tilt at council. I remember someone telling me: “You can wait three years for the next election. At least then you will have finished your BA.” It seemed like a generation away.

I wasn’t persuaded.

***

Fast forward and I have jumped into more decisions that I care to admit. I jumped into living in Israel. I jumped into marraige. I jumped into having a child. Jumped in and out of no less than five apartments in my nearly four year marriage.

Over time, I have developed some better tools for making decisions about where to jump. For example, whereas many of the things I did during my political career were actually bad decisions that I would not take again, life in Israel, marriage and my son are all good decisions that I stand by and am grateful for. I even stand by some of the apartment choices.

But – and here’s the huge but… how much more comfortable would every single one of those transitions have been, if I had just waited one more year? 

***

I have a lot of energy to get things done.

I am pretty unstopable once activated. It’s easy for me to thrust myself into things on a wing and a prayer and a lot of hard work. Even if I am not ready for them.

Yet this time, the fact that I have to admit to myself is this: we want to move. Our home is very small. We make use of every square inch, are minimalist about our possessions and it’s still a tight fit. I would love if my mum could have her own room when she comes to visit.

But we are not ready to move. 

We don’t have the savings to pay for the move in cash.

We don’t have the income to live in the area of Jerusalem we want to live in.

It’s as simple as that.

Sure I could cobble together a half-baked move to Jerusalem, to a neighbourhood and house that leaves us half-satisfied.

Or I could do the unthinkable.

I could wait.

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The Terror of Indecision

There are few things I am more terrified of than uncertainty.

Recently, I have been pondering the question of whether to remain in our current apartment, or relocate to a larger apartment, a cheaper apartment, or a new city entirely. There seem to be dozens of variable. Should we be finding a place with a room where my husband can practice his massage? Do we need  to be  paying less rent so we can save money and pay off debt?  Should stay put because we are so close to the university? Would it be better for us to live in a quieter, rural location, where we could afford a car and scale back the pace of our lives a little. What is the priority?

I have been chewing over this problem from all angles, obsessively scoping out real estate sites and generally, making myself crazy.

I desperately want to just know already. I want to be resolved and be ready to go. Even if there is some waiting involved,  that would be infinitely preferable to the sheer abyss of not knowing. It’s the indecision, the not-knowing, the state of being unsure, undecided and uneasy.

When I was younger, I always had a plan. I think I had five year, ten year and twenty year plans from the age of – twelve? Of course, these involved outlandish ideas like a five year stint in Japan learning to be a Maiko (which is the actual term for a what we think of as a “Geisha” ((Don’t ask!)) ). Also on the agenda were restoring democracy in Burma and ending poverty in Australia. Eventually, I my plans became rolled into my political involvement, and I meticulously planned out my rise up the ladder.

Planning was something that was heavily encouraged in my environment. At school, kids who “didn’t know what they wanted to do” were looked on with anxiety. They had to have career counselling and it was feared they might fall of the tracks entirely, into that dark realm of disrepute that school was supposed to protect us from. I was never that kid, I always had plans and I always had somewhere I was going.

In recent months, I have been thinking a lot about decision-making, and it has suddenly become very clear to me that I have an intense fear of being in the space of uncertainty that comes before the decision. Usually what I do, is shut down the decision as soon as possible, taking whatever decision is quickest – even if it’s not the easiest.

I have been seeing a therapist recently, and one of the things she suggests is that it is entirely possible to expereince this place before the decision as a both the place where it is possible to have the most fun and experience the most creativity. This is really deep and true. In that moment of quiet before we make decisions, these really are the moments where living an intentional life becomes a reality, not a theory, an experience and not a blog post. My issue is the place before decisions is not quiet. The place before decision right now is full of terrified voices screaming “DO SOMETHING! NOW! GET US OUT OF HERE!”

For now, the most difficult avodah (spiritual practice) and also the one that I am being called to, is to sit and wait and cultivate that quietness.

It’s true there are many variables, it’s true I am not sure what I want to do. For now, I am just going to sit. This sitting might involve a little research into options, but any time I feel it becoming frantic or stressful, I will stop.

Don’t just do something, sit there.