This article gets at one of the main reasons why I fled the USA in order to live abroad: I Am Not My Job.
While I wasn’t coming from an area as ridiculously expensive as NYC, I find the USA to be expensive in general, and my life there included some necessary evils in order to maintain a functional, productive life. (cars, mainly).
I was in the camp that pursued the day job and relegated my passions to spare time. Which, as anyone with a semi-professional 9-5 can attest, means that you’re working far more than 40 hours per week, most likely commuting, and very little of that leftover energy typically goes toward passion-promoting activities. You just wanna sit the hell down when you have the chance.
Which is why my novels went untouched for years and my writing craft totally withered into a crusty shell of its former glory. My dreams were still there, but the time to accomplish them continued to evaporate as the years marched on. The majority of my available energy went into common domestic tasks, socializing with friends, and getting my yoga done (and not even religiously).
The move abroad was necessary for me to feel like I was finally getting a chance to focus. Ditch some of the responsibilities that felt, to me, like they were clogging my plumbing (insurance bills, car maintenance expenses, buying gas) instead of allowing safe passage of goals and inspiration. Some people can feel this way perfectly fine in their hometown or adult landscape. I, however, did not. I felt constantly “busy” and never “productive”, as the author mentions in her article. And I needed, desperately, to make a change to more productive and far less busy.
My move to Chile has afforded me this. In a huge way. Although it’s a relatively expensive Latin American country, my lifestyle costs are minimal, and I am for the first time living in a way that feels authentic to me. Now when someone asks me what I do, my answer is “I am a writer.” I still have a day job (though sometimes writing IS the day job), but the difference is that I feel confident and secure in responding this way because my passion has finally taken precedence in my daily life.
The author of the article says she doesn’t advocate that everyone move to the mountains like she did, but hopes that other young creatives can begin to consider different home bases as they seek to pursue their craft. And while I don’t think moving to the mountains (or the seaside…or South America…or Chile, for example) is hard and fast necessary, I DO recommend such a move. Move to the Catskills, or the Andes, or Costa Rica, or into a strange commune on the other side of the US, or into a distant uncle’s cabin in Oregon, or to the freakin’ Phillipines. Try it. See what happens. Because if such a move or adventure is possible, your creativity can only improve because of it. I did have to move my home base to be able to milk the sweet teat of creativity. And look at what has come sputtering forth: heinous analogies.
Now that I’ve got some of my creative goals underway and I know more of what it feels like to be living a creative life as opposed to waiting for the weekends to maybe re-visit that old story I stopped working on five years ago, I feel confident that I can someday come back to my home country and effectively be a creative writer.
Maybe not quite yet, though.