The other day I felt the incessant need to clear some space in my house. Maybe it’s just that I’m antsy to be moving at the end of the month, but I couldn’t help myself in boxing up some of my belongings and moving them along with a few pieces of furniture into the garage and out of sight. I then rearranged a bit, opening up corners of the room which hadn’t seen the daylight in quite some time. I dusted, I swept, I vacuumed, I felt cleansed. Like a blockage had just been broken and the energy could, once again, flow freely throughout the space, through me.
It is this same stale space and burdensome feeling that a routine lifestyle brings me. When I start to behave in habit, when I think not for myself nor even at all really, but rather lose sight of this mentality where room exists to grow, to learn, to expand my mind. When my life lacks excitement, change and spontaneity, I feel stale. Likewise, when my living space lacks a flow of energy, I become stale. And when it is fresh, nurtured and comfortable, I too am balanced and evolving. In this way, my living space parallels my life flow: space must first be made before the opportunities that bring health and happiness can present themselves.
This past summer I had a job that I found to be increasingly soul-sucking over the four months that I worked there. Moving to a new city from a different state, my priorities were absolutely in the right place: to make money, and to put something more tangible on my food service resume in a town of extremely talented candidates. It is for these reasons I am not regretful, but rather have come to learn in hindsight that this job was wasting away at me, my time and my integrity. It was stale space. Had I stayed there and toughed it out, I may have taken on a managerial position or moved up in the company in other ways, sure. But no, no thank you. Ultimately I felt a nagging need to quit, regardless of the outcome had I stayed. So I did.
And just like that, the space was created.
It was at about the same time when I learned of a possible job opportunity at a restaurant that was to be opening up downtown in a few weeks. What caught my attention most was that it is a restaurant of Chef Vitaly Paley of Paley’s Place in Portland, the restaurant that I had been eyeing since before moving out to this town. If you have heard of Paley then you know that this is exactly the type of chef you want to be working for as both a server and a cook, and knowing this I doubted my own abilities to be up for the tremendous responsibility of presenting food of this caliber. But I inquired anyway, just for the hell of it. The following day I was handing in a resume to Paley’s Place and sitting down for an interview with the Chef’s wife Kimberley and Garrett, general manager of Imperial, my heart pounding my palms sweaty as ever. The two weeks between the time I quit and the moment I received the phone call from Garrett were definitely not the highlight of my summer, but just getting a taste of the light at the end of this dark tunnel was enough to deem it a memorable one.
It’s one of the more difficult feelings a person can experience, the unknown. To not know of the consequences or outcome of a decision, regardless of whether you think it is or isn’t right. The anxiety is often so overwhelming for me that I cannot fully experience contentment in the present until I have an answer. I find myself consumed by it.
Sometimes these opportunities are out of our control, and it may be difficult to perceive them in a positive light at first. Case in point: my current living situation. We gave our thirty days notice at the beginning of December with a promising lead on another shared living space that seemed too good to be true. It was, it fell through leaving us with not only an empty void to be filled but a gaping hole to clumsily climb out of. In a sea of soulless craigslists ads we are swimming against the tide. In fifteen days we officially become homeless, it is not an easy prospect to accept. It is, in fact, extremely nerve-racking and a feeling I do not take comfort in.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But like a flash flood in a moment’s notice, that space becomes filled with an opportunity that’s almost always more meaningful that what existed before it. What follows is the best part: an overwhelming feeling of relief and gratitude. This feeling I can recall most recently when I was offered the position at Vitaly Paley’s Imperial.
If you see your ideal life differently than how it is now; if you are unhappy and seeking change; if you find yourself drained by your surroundings, then there is something you should know. You must first rid yourself of that which is unfulfilling if you seek to create space for those meaningful opportunities to arise and to experience true growth.