Lightness of Being

December 19, 2003

For sometime now I have felt depressed, weighted down, and generally uninterested in many aspects of life. I wanted to make this the return of my annual depression, but somehow I knew there was more to this than just seasonal unhappiness.

During the night last night, Michele had a nightmare about going poor and having to live on the street. We talked for a while in bed and then got up to talk at length. As she explored her fears and discovered her truth about our situation, I discovered the way out of my malaise too. Put simply: our time in Springfield needs to come to an end.

Three and a half years ago when we first started planning a return here my thinking was focused on the earning potential working for myself held. My fantasy was that we would be able to save a significant amount of money and that when we were ready we could leave Springfield and move to a more liberal, open-minded location for the remainder of our lives. This has indeed proved to be a fantasy as we not only haven't been able to save money, we find ourselves in debt and struggling to regain our financial footing.

What has happened in place of the illusion of financial freedom, is the reality of the best relationship possible with the members of my immediate family. I no longer look to my father or mother for affirmation that I am a good man, or that I am a success. I recognize the true role the hold in the play of my life and in doing so, I have freed myself from my childhood once and for all. I now see myself as an adult with them, and not as their child. The strain I had felt with my father is gone as I now share details about my life with him not to get my needs met, but rather just to share. I meet my own "father" needs now. My relationship with my mother is also vastly improved as I no longer harbor anger at her for not showing her love and affection for me in my manner. I have learned to feel the love she has for me through the actions and comments she makes. In other words, I take her as she is and I don't try to force her to be what she isn't.

The relationship that is most improved is the one with my brother. I see him for the adult man he is now, and I hugely respect his accomplishments as a father and husband. I understand clearly that his growing up experiences were different than mine. No better or worse, just different. To expect him to behave or think like me was disregarding his life, and it created a barrier between us. Now that I have come to see him in his truth I feel that barrier is gone. Recently he and I have connected at a deeper level than ever before, and I take that as confirmation he feels the same openness between us.

I always knew that returning to Springfield was a chance to grow up and become the adult I am away from my family in their presence. The illusion of making lots of money was a pretense, a story for publication. Coming here has been a vital and necessary part of my development. It meant setting aside some needs for a time. Now that I have achieved my goals vis-à-vis my family, those pushed aside needs are clamoring for attention.

I want, and individually so does Michele, to live somewhere open and spiritual. Some place with natural beauty and diverse cultural currents. A place with a variety of opportunities personal and professional. I no longer feel the need to make working about money, money, money. Instead I see it as a means to a greater end; my philosophical and spiritual growth. Staying in a part of the country that feels repressive and angry is not going to help me grow. In fact I view the recent troubles with my contract and the reduction of my contract rate as a blunt hint that this place is about to become hostile to me.

It is time to move, on my own terms, to a place I feel at home. Knowing this at my core gives me a lightness of being that I haven't felt for a long time. I don't know where Michele and I will end up. Canada? New Zealand? Boulder? Who knows, and who cares. The point is not the destination but the journey. It feels good to set off on my journey once again.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.