by Daniel D. Maurer
Just recently, my wife Carol and I have been looking at the possibility of moving.
We own a beautiful home in Saint Paul, Minnesota in one of the coolest neighborhoods I've ever lived in. We've been here for the past four years.
But now, it seems, there is a pulling, an induced yearning-to-roam. The best way I can describe the feeling is comparing it to a conversation I'm having with a little emotional leprechaun in my head:
He says, "Look at how quiet and wonderful your parents' back yard was this week! You would be much happier if you had a writing studio further away from the family's commotion in the home today. Imagine a peaceful setting where you would most certainly thrive!"
"Yeah! I think you're right," I say.
The leprechaun continues, his accent growing thicker: "O, Danny Boy ... it's time for a change again. You've been a wee unhappy—a tad blue, as of late. Might you consider getting out to search for the new pot o' gold?"
The leprechaun analogy only goes so far, because it's ME who is talking myself into moving around. I've especially caught the bug lately. I think I know why too.
I love novelty.
Wanderlust infects the very marrow of my bones. Deep down, I think I have to always be moving, arriving at not only the greener pasture, but aiming for the next one beyond as well. For all the other reasons which I won't go into depth boring you with (schools, real estate taxes, proximity to work, etc.), the real reason why I want to change our address is because I think there is someplace "out there" which will allow me to finally be. at. rest.
The strange thing about the power of novelty is that, for a while, it really does feel like you've "made it."
I've been to this place before and I should know better than to fall into a pit lined with a hundred sharp spikes in the bottom.
Five years ago, I had been arrested because of my addiction. I lost my job; I nearly lost my family. And I didn't know where to turn. When I got sober, I made some really big changes I NEVER thought I would make:
I moved to Minnesota, the State where I was raised.
I got—and I stayed—sober. I never dreamed I would want to stay that way, much less that I'd be able to achieve that goal.
I became a writer.
I started telling the truth, confronting my dishonesty even when it hurt to choose the honest response.
I embraced city-life and connected with a group of very good friends and fellow travelers in my Twelve-Step meeting.
And you know what? The change was . . . exhilarating!!
I know about the pink-cloud effect that many newly sober people float around in, but it seems like I want to keep going back to that place of newness, where every day was an adventure.
I'm at a new place of maturity (at least in retrospect). I can confront my never-ending lust for new stuff or new circumstances. I know that, sometimes, change ISN'T the right thing! Sometimes, the right thing to change is by making a different decision than what you FEEL like you want to do.
My lizard brain knows only one tense—now. I want to change and move and wander because it makes Mr. Snake Brain happy . . . but only in that moment. I am not a lizard though! I have a higher brain and a spiritual sense that I don't need to make decisions solely on the basis of how I feel.
So, for today, I'm choosing not to change. I'm choosing to stay and notice the new that is already here all around me, but I've grown too accustomed to seeing the real gift the ordinary has to offer.
Sometimes change isn't the right thing. Sometimes, "the now" already has everything I need. Sometimes the common, everyday, plain old here contains more adventure and newness than I ever conceived.
Update: We still haven't completely scratched off whether or not we might consider moving, but at least I know I need to make that decision based on the right reasons. - Dan the Story Man
Daniel D. Maurer was an ordained ELCA pastor for eleven years. He lived in western North Dakota and served in several parishes before falling deeply into depression and addiction. After he was arrested for trespassing, he went into treatment at Hazelden in Center City, Minnesota. Today, he's a freelance writer living openly in recovery and seeks to share his, and others', stories of change and personal transformation. You can buy his highly-acclaimed books, here and here. He lives in his family in St. Paul, Minnesota and is the chief word-wrangler at Transformation is Real.