"Happiness, not in another place but in this place...not in another hour, but this hour." That's Walt Whitman. It's also what's weighed on my mind as I stand on the cusp of moving halfway across the country. Shortly after writing this I'll start making the drive from Madison, WI to Washington, D.C. In the chaos that has been packing, and cleaning, and deciding what's important enough to bring, I wanted to stop, and really consider what this all means.
I came to Madison a little over six years ago. When I came here I was eager for a new adventure. A change of scenery. In the time I've been here I've seen myself completely change. I'm sure you're thinking that makes sense, considering how much time has passed. However, I feel like it's more than just the superficial changes brought about by the passage of time.
When I came to Madison, I had two years of college completed — having taken a lot of time off due to finances. Since then I've been able to finish my degree. When I came here I serving, and hating it. In the time I spent here I was able to see myself grow in a professional space. I lived a career I never thought I'd have. When I came here, I was frustrated at myself for feeling like I wasn't fulfilled in the things I actually wanted to be doing: specifically writing. In the time I've been here, albeit in small doses, I've been able to see myself grow as a writer. Pitching, getting published, getting paid for my work (What?!). I've grown to have enough confidence in myself as a writer that I literally paid for the website you're currently on to have a professional space for all of it.
Taking a second to really step back and consider all that I've been able to do while here finally allowed me to appreciate the time I've spent here, the things I've accomplished, the friendships I've made. It also brings me back to what it all means.
"Happiness, not in another place, but in this place...not in another hour, but this hour." The lesson I'm taking from my last six years here is to allow myself to give in to everything this current moment has to offer, and not get so enamored with what I could, or should be doing for my future, that I'm letting it overtake the experience of "now."
While I was here, I spent a lot of time thinking of seeing myself living in a bigger city again — complaining about having friends that were so far away. At times, not appreciating or cultivating the friendships I made here; not putting myself out there enough to make this feel more like what I thought I was missing. So, that's the lesson I take from this entire experience, and as I find myself moments away from leaving it all behind for something new (scary!): to find happiness (what ever that may be) in the current moment, and not let it take me moving halfway across the country to really appreciate what I have.