Publisher: July 2022

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Dearest EXPLORE reader,

Ever want to just give up?

You ever want to give up on your job? Your relationships? Your obligations? Your life? You ever just want to sell all your shit, grab a suitcase or two full of your most important belongings, and disappear? Just show up at the airport with those couple of bags, buy a one-way ticket to a location you choose simply by closing your eyes and randomly selecting it, and just burn every bridge you’ve crossed?

Yeah, me too.

I’ve been thinking these types of thoughts a lot lately, and I’ve been trying to make sense of them. On one hand, these thoughts scare me a little as they seem defeated or depressed or hopeless. I’ve got a life that God has blessed me with in our ever-growing little Boerne, I have 3 beautiful kids, some great friends, and a comfortable existence for the most part. Sure, things could be different or better, but it’s not like I’m living under the bridge. So why do I daydream about literally throwing a dart at a world map and vanishing?

On the other hand, I’ve also been trying to dissect these feelings and thoughts through a positive lens as well. I mean, the strength and bravery to sincerely be willing to drastically modify one’s life and to push themselves outside of their comfort zone takes some serious cajones, and so maybe that’s a good thing? Maybe my subconscious is pushing me forward as it seeks adventure and a big part of me is absolutely fired up to get out and do something insane and exciting.

And I suppose I’m the only one that knows the answers to those questions. Am I being a coward and trying to run away to “start over”? Or is it just time to do some epic shit with my life and I’m ready to rumble? I know which answer I hope is the truth.

I have beaten this topic into the ground in this little column over the years, but friends and neighbors: LIFE IS SHORT.

You’ve heard this. You know this. Everybody tells you this. You get it. Me too. Better make it count, right?

So why do I find myself hand-wringing over it and feeling this itch to just pulverize my current existence and make a new one? And is that a good thing?

Have you ever felt that way? Have you sat on your back porch and done some quick math to figure out how much cash you could have in your pocket if you liquidated your life, and then daydreamed about how far that cash might get you? Or am I the only weird one here?
Life is supposed to be an adventure, right? It’s supposed to be fun and wild and full of mystery and intrigue and emotional highs. Is that how you’d describe your life? Probably not. Nor would I. My life is……….boring. And routine. And mundane. And repetitive. And this current “chapter” of my life has been virtually the same for the past 17 years as I’ve been single dad to 3 rascals. Wake up, breakfast, school, work all day, dinner, play time, bed. Rinse and repeat for almost 2 decades. Over and over.

I know that kids need that stability and routine in order to grow and mature…but Dad has had it with the mundane and routine. It’s time for something wild and different and loud and bright. But is that HEALTHY? Or am I just bored and trying to run away?

I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about this topic as I arm wrestled with this letter, and here’s where I’ve made it so far:

My thoughts are GOOD. But what I do with them is what will determine my future satisfaction.

Analyzing our lives through the lens of “Am I happy?” is never a bad exercise. I suppose we should all be doing that as often as we can. My answer currently would be: “Not really. I’m thankful for many things, but this chapter is no longer serving me”. Ok, it’s an honest answer and a good start.

What’s YOUR answer? If you’d absolutely content with your current lot in life, then God bless you. But if you’re like me, and are feeling some mysterious pull to break out into new adventures, then let’s keep talking.

I hypothesize, that initially, the “am I happy?” conversation is where to start. For obvious reasons. But to truly spend some time on that answer is crucial. The first thing I felt when asking myself that was some sort of guilt or depression as I said to myself “Well, if you say you’re NOT happy, it’s like a condemnation of everyone in your life. Or that you’re not thankful for what you have” but I don’t think that’s necessarily fair. I have come to think that it’s perfectly natural to look at your current situation and say “I’m so thankful for what God has blessed me with, but I think I’m better suited for different adventures.”
Secondly, what to do with this answer? Well, that’s the easy one – if you’re being honest with yourself, and you’re being forthright with your emotions, then you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice to not do SOMETHING with this gained wisdom. I mean, if you’re admitting you want change and you do NOT enact change, then what the hell was the point?

We’ve decided we would like some change in our lives, and we’ve decided to do something about it. So what do we do?

Answer? ANYTHING.

I think this is where 99% of folks will find the happiness they feel is eluding them. Sure, you could sell all your shit and pack a suitcase and board a plane to Siberia…but often I think you’d just find your “old self” waiting for you on the tarmac. Your old fears and hang-ups and stressors would all just be waiting for you like a welcoming party as they said “Great job running away! But we found you!”

But who among us would really be willing to do something so drastic? Not many of us, and for good reason. Yes, I seriously do consider moving to Belize and have talked it to death in this column, but will I really do it? I honestly don’t know. Because as I described, as I ran away from all my issues and stressors and people I want to never see…I’m terrified I’d find myself on some Belize beach walking along and stressing out about all the same old things. So what have I accomplished? Not much.

But ANYTHING remains the most valid and realistic answer to our quandary. Just do it. Make the change. Join the group. Work out. Make a friend. Go on the trip. Change jobs. Change spouses. Drop your codependency. Learn about yourself. Change your dreams. Say the prayers. Meditate. Write a book. Learn an instrument. Go on a date. Quit dating. Eat better. Eat less. Eat WAY more.

Whatever! Just do…anything.

If we consciously choose to break ourselves out of the “rut” we have found ourselves, then our lives instantly change. And maybe you make the wrong choice on the first try to get out of your rut, but that’s the fun part about life: you have an opportunity each day to find the right “mechanism” that will alter your trajectory with your life and bring the change you are seeking.

And then, in theory, you’d answer the question of “Are you happy?” differently the next time you ask yourself.

Or sell all your shit and move to Belize. It’s up to you.

Welcome to July. May you EXPLORE your heart on the back porch, may you ask yourself some poignant questions, and may you break out of your rut and into the greatest chapter of your life. Whether it’s here where you are, in Siberia, or Belize.

Smiling,

 

Ben Schooley