Much To My Delight

Much To My Delight


View From The Top

 

The day before I resigned from my clinic job, I caught a wild hair and took the elevator up to the top of the Empire State Building. It hadn’t been on my agenda that day, but I had my annual gyno appointment around the corner, 40 bucks burning a hole in my pocket and a few hours to kill, so I figured… why not? Almost 20 years in New York City and I’d never been. Can you believe that?

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It was early January and absolutely frigid, but once the idea had wiggled into my brain, I couldn’t kick it out. Oh, the symbolism! Finally seeing the city from the top at the crux of my 20th year! Going up all by myself the day before I go it alone in private practice! Playing “I Spy” from the balcony, reflecting on all the places I’ve been right before flipping the page to my next chapter! My mom and husband think I’m not sentimental because I don’t hold onto memorabilia or physical objects tied to personal memories. What they don’t realize is that I have entire elfa systems in my brain reserved for organizing the bounty of the past four decades. I stash all these thoughts and memories in tiny little drawers scattered across my noggin’.

One of the things I’m enjoying most about my 40s is that the drawers are becoming so full. I enjoy nostalgia more than the average bird, and while I may not hold onto the physical leftovers of all my experiences, make no mistake- I think about them and dream backward every single day. Sometimes the memories spring forth so powerfully I think my poor brain is going to bust. When things start to feel like they might overflow, that’s about the time I finally sit down to write a blog post.

I think I’m getting off-topic. Where was I?

Right. The top of the Empire State Building.

So I went up there in January and looked down at the city that shaped me. My eyes went immediately to the Flatiron Building, where I had one of my first job interviews for a pulp magazine about werewolves and vampires in a corner office that literally came to a point. I saw the tiny green patch of Madison Square Park and the restaurant parked at the back of it, where I met my husband in a room strung with twinkle lights for our company Christmas party. I looked way down and saw the narrow alleys of the financial district, where I used to push through crowds of tourists to get to work. The New York City skyline is still an undeniably impressive sight, but I didn’t get all moony and weepy the way I did when I first moved here and couldn’t get over myself. I’ve been here for a significant chunk of time, and views like this fill me more with appreciation than awe now. A lot has changed in the city in the past 20 years, including myself.

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For the last year and half, I’ve had an internal restlessness that I just can’t shake. If you’re hip to basic math, that clocks back to my 40th birthday, or shortly thereafter.

In the last year specifically, there has burned within me a tiny flame that screams, “Stop wasting time! Make things happen! Figure out WHAT REALLY MATTERS. Get rid of what doesn’t. Edit, clarify, extinguish.”

And no, I’m not having a midlife crisis thankyouverymuch. I’m saving that for my 47th birthday when I plan to finally dye my hair lavender.

Instead, I’ve begun to call this period my “midlife awakening”. Vin made a pinched face when I described it to him last week. (He’s a year younger than me, so maybe he’s just not here yet). I thought I was brilliant inventing this term, but a quick google search revealed that “midlife awakening” is already very much a thing. Oh well. I knew it wasn’t just me.

Over the past year, I’ve felt a pressing urge to live my life on terms I establish, instead of just rolling along without questioning them. I’m not exactly fixated on my own mortality (yet), but there’s definitely a feeling that time is of the essence, and I need to start using it mindfully.

I’ve been sorting my values into three categories– keep, discard, continue evaluating. I’ve been doing some major reflecting, and came to the realization that I haven’t been allocating time for things I truly value most in life (ie: spending time/connecting with family and friends, taking proper care of myself physically, engaging in activities that are purely recreational/fun/educational).  It’s only recently that I’ve been able to see the negative ways my job was affecting many critical parts of my life. This change was a long time coming, and it’s come at just the right time. I’m fortunate and grateful to have a career in which self-employment is an option. I realize not every one has that choice. I am also incredibly fortunate and grateful to be able to utilize my husband’s health insurance; that’s a luxury too.

My last day of work at the clinic was Friday. I’m plunking down a nice chunk of money to rent four consecutive days in an Astoria office, despite not having enough clients to fill them yet. Naturally, my first week of self-employment marks the first week since Christmas that I haven’t gotten a referral call. It’s scary. But it’s less scary than staying in the same place, knowing it’s not right for me anymore.

***

I had a bunch of very important thoughts running through my mind the day I stood among the German and Chinese tourists on the top of the Empire State Building.

Here are the big three that jumped out at me. These are the things I’m reminding myself as I move forward:

-Stop worrying so much about reaching goals. Concentrate more on living a life in line with your values, and let those be the guideposts for making needed changes.

-If you’re not really intentional about the way you spend your time, there’s a good chance you’ll look back with regret.

- There’s nothing more valuable than relationships– if you’re lacking time or energy to nourish them, figure out a way to get that time and energy back.

There’s probably more I could have come up with, but it was really freaking cold up there so my reflecting was on a restricted timeline. I found my way to the elevator line and traveled back to ground level. As I exited to a lower floor, I came face to face with King Kong.

It’s been two months, and I’m still trying to figure out the metaphor in that.IMG_2095

 

 

Jenn P.

30-something psychotherapist. Loves cooking, hosting parties, exploring new places. Texan by birth. New Yorker by choice. Likes to tell little stories. Pull up a chair; I'll tell you one.

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