My husband and I drove through downtown the other night, playing an indecisive game that I have lovingly named: Where Should We Eat?
It’s a game we play often. (Less often now, since we are on a strict budget.) The game entails getting really hungry, driving around, making a decision on a particular restaurant, and then talking ourselves out of that decision. It’s too expensive. It looks crowded. The fries are bad. Of Note: The longer you play, the less fun this game becomes.
Anyway, the big news in downtown is the closing of two very well-known establishments. Both places — a creole-style restaurant, and a bar that opened just days after the prohibition ended in 1933 — were housed in the same building, which was unfortunately sold to new owners who did not renew their leases. A huge piece of the town’s history now shutting down.
In light of the news, I was really curious to drive by those places and see what was going on. Would they be busy? Slow? Would they even still be open, knowing they are just days away from being closed down?
I didn’t get a good look at the bar, but I had a few moments to take in the scene outside of the restaurant as traffic slowed while we drove past. Patrons were entering in through the restaurant’s doors, and it looked to me as if nothing had changed — for the time being, anyway. I did, however, notice a sign in the front window that read: Thank You for 30 Years.
Wow. 30 years.
I considered what might be going through the heads of the people of that establishment — the owners, in particular. I imagined that they probably felt somewhat lost, and maybe a little overwhelmed by the abrupt end to an era that they had devoted so much of their lives to.
Can you imagine giving 30 years of your life to something, only to have it shut down, with no say in the matter?
I felt a fear of the unknown, and sadness in an end as I considered what they might be thinking and feeling. However, even more overwhelming than that, was my consideration of how a window of opportunity had now been opened wide for their exploration.
I’d be lying if I said I’d never thought about the freedom that could come from that kind of life change. To be forced from your job or career, from everything you knew and felt comfortable with, and have to answer the daunting question: what’s next? So scary, I’m sure. But how about adventurous and thrilling, too?
In this type of situation, it’s almost as if you’re given permission to create something totally new and different; to go after anything you want. There’s no obligation to stay safe and protected by the known, the routine, the “norm.” The known is gone, the routine is broken, the norm no longer exists. You get a blank canvas. A do-over. A fresh start.
For me, it’s the act of being pushed out, rather than choosing to leave, that seems so freeing.
There are no hard decisions to make, because your input doesn’t matter. There is no fear from the question, what if I’m making the wrong choice by leaving this behind?, because there is no choice to be made. You’re not breaking any rules, taking risks, or going against the grain; in fact, society would see this as a misfortune for you, and for your family.
I’ve struggled with this realization for days now. Why should I, a dreamer of big dreams, be afraid to go after those dreams? Why does our society, our upbringing, and our sense of security get any say in how we spend our lives?
And, the most crucial question: why do I allow these outside factors to sway my decisions or play a role in my actions? Why do logics, safety, and security trump passion, excitement, and fulfillment?
I don’t have all of the answers to those questions right now. It’s multifaceted, that’s for sure. But, the realization that I’ve succumbed to sorry-this-is-just-the-way-things-are kind of living, rather than living my life and showing up in the way I feel called to, is a BIG first step. And it’s scary. And painful. But recognition of the problem is so much better than hiding from it, and that recognition allows me to start taking action. So for now, I’ll take it.