The Perfect Imperfection of Now

This is about realization as travel. About life as travel.

And as not traveling just yet.

Anyone who has known me for more than a minute knows that I have lived in a number of places since 2008 – Chicago, Brazil, back to Chicago, Oakland, Alameda, San Francisco, back to Chicago, and now Monterey. Ever since pulling up my stakes in late 2008 to travel and teach in Brazil in early 2009, I have not been able to settle again. One reason is that, like Goldilocks, I can always discover the Too-Somethings about a place. I wrote about this in a piece that was published on the Manifest-Station.

I have lived in Monterey almost a year – and come October, I will have lived here longer than I’ve lived anywhere since my Nomad Phase began. And let me tell you, the Too-Somethings about Monterey are slithering around me something fierce. Too far, too small, too rich-white-people, too not-liberal-enough.

I will be honest: I want to run away.


And then I remember that Monterey is the most beautiful, peaceful place I’ve ever lived – and I’ve lived in some beyond beautiful places – and that it has gorgeously mild weather, and kind people, and lovely sunsets, and I decide that glass-half-full is definitely the way to go here.

And it’s then that I realize the trap I’d fallen into: I can be really happy when…

We all do that, right? And we all know not to. My life will *really* begin when I get married/have a kid/buy a house/get a salaried job/retire/give up the salaried job to be an artist/lose weight/build crazy muscle/publish a book/sell a painting/am hugely successful…. We’ve all had that list at one time or another, right? Even if you’re smart enough to know “my life will *really* begin when” is total bull, it sometimes sneaks in without you noticing.

See, I had been lamenting all of the fun, strange, wonderful gatherings I’d been missing in San Francisco with friends because I live 100 miles away, and was thinking I can be really happy when I’m able to move closer. My life can really start then. But then I remember that I’ve danced in the Solstice Parade in Santa Barbara, road-tripped to Vegas with three phenomenal women for a weekend of glamming and watching world-class burlesque, danced forró and samba more times than I can count, went surfing in San Diego for the first time, found a waterfall that feeds into the ocean, and so much more. I’ve traveled somewhere almost every weekend: San Francisco and Oakland, of course. San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, Big Sur, Los Angeles, San Diego…and that’s just in the last three months.

No, I can’t meet my San Francisco friends for drinks in 20 minutes. And whenever I drive up for a visit, I have to negotiate a place to sleep (which has never been a problem, thanks to my generous friends) and pack for a few-days worth of not being at home.

But that is my life. It is not temporary. It is not a pit stop. It is not a purgatory I’m in until my “real life” can start again, even though I’d been treating it that way. The truth is that I haven’t found my dream job…sheesh, I haven’t even found a selection of jobs that adequately support me: I’m up to 3 different part-time staff and faculty appointments at a university, plus 3 more part-time freelance/contract jobs, and I still have to work magic on my monthly budget – without benefits – to make ends meet. So not just career satisfaction, but a bill-paying, reliable, stable career eludes me, and it’s something that I will continue to seek and refine. (Hindsight is indeed 20/20, but as a side-note, my advice is to avoid academia if bill-paying, reliability and stability are among your career goals.)

So I may not live here forever or in five years or next month. But you can bet that if and when I move, it won’t be because I’m focusing on the Too-Somethings, or that I’m waiting for my next move to begin my “real” life. Sure, a fulfilling career is a goal I’m actively working toward, but it doesn’t have to stop me from enjoying the now. From seeking the sati. (See what I did there?)

What has been your too-something? Your “I’m waiting for {__} until I can really be happy,” or “When {__} happens, then I can really start living my life.”? How can you change your perspective? How can you enjoy the perfect imperfection of now?

2 thoughts on “The Perfect Imperfection of Now

  1. The joy of having friends in many different places is that you will always have a place to crash on a trip. I completely understand about enjoying the here and now. My early twenties were full of too-something moments. It didn’t take me long to realize that life doesn’t last forever and one must enjoy the moment before it has passed. It is okay to have plans and dreams but they should not stop us from enjoying our current situations. Great post!

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