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…this path, this road that is one perfect straight line even if it goes around the world through heat and fog and rain and snow and it’s my life I keep thinking. It’s my life.
Deborah Keenen

Dreaming after all is a form of planning.
Gloria Steinem

Sometime ago, months in fact, someone asked me out of the blue: “If anything were possible and nothing was in the way, what would you do?  I hesitated for a moment because that sounded like one of those impossible dreams that seldom consider the obligations and challenges of day to day living. None the less, as I am sometimes wont to do, a response popped out of my mouth without much thought:

“Live in New York City”. I could just have easily said London or Paris.
“So why don’t you?” I was asked.
“I can’t do that.”
“Why not?”
“Well……” Somewhat surprised, because the “why nots” were clearly self-evident, I rhymed off the reasons I could not move to a different city. All were true. All were ones I believed. But this person persisted.

“How do you know you can’t if you don’t at least look into it?”

Her point was that an idea should not be dismissed because some voice in our head says it can’t be done.

I can so easily talk myself out of a great idea and not give it the time of day. The default switch within my brain usually says no to wild and wonderful stuff in favour of rational and responsible (i.e. safe) behaviour.  This time, however, I parked the idea in my cerebral cortex so as not to let it go and where it could be retrieved from time to time – to turn it around and consider it from all sides, without judgment. In other words, I thought about living in New York without fussing about how to do it.

Living large is what we are supposed to be doing- loving, playing, connecting, and hopefully laughing along the way.  It is true that undertaking something with little idea of what you are getting into and no certainty of the outcome can provoke unease. But as someone once said- if you always follow the rules, you miss out on the fun!

Surely for those of us at midlife and beyond, this is our time. There is only one reason to live in New York or Paris or London or do anything else for that matter and that is simply because we want to.  Self-indulgent perhaps; no one’s interests served except our own; and no established plan in place. How liberating! The rational voice of reason that lurks around in our heads would tell us that simply wanting to do something was never enough of a reason.

I decided it was enough of a reason.

I decided to disregard the inclination to wait for the right moment and resist the nagging voice that says it’s too late to act on impulse. I decided to see the opportunity to live in another city as a gift I may not need but which I believe will enrich my life.

It has taken a long time to get to this point – through heat and fog and rain and snow, but here I am.  I have always loved urban landscapes. Cities draw me in and New York is one of those places that really does it for me.

And so, I am now living in New York City for three months to do some writing and explore and simply be open to whatever presents itself. The idea is wild and wacky enough to work.

An adventure of limitless possibilities means writing a new chapter in a story that calls for a leap of faith. Part of the preparation for this experience has been to gather what is needed and let go of what is not- pruning the non-essentials to make space for those encounters or events that make life magical and joyful.

The question I am asked most often is: what will you do in New York? Certainly not be a tourist, although there are some things I want to see and do. I like to think of this experience as a form of sabbatical that requires a good coffee shop to park myself with my laptop and time spent getting to know the neighbourhoods. Simply being in New York is enough because New York is always a good idea! Ol’ Blue Eyes sang it best:

My only intention at this point is to be open to whatever transpires on this new path.  For that to happen I will follow Mary Oliver’s instructions for living a life:
“Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

The adventure begins! Once again, the wild part of me deep down says “Go for it!”



6 thoughts on “Changing Paths: To New York!

  1. Audrey – I was thinking about you this morning as I got off the Go Train and was wondering if you were in NYC yet and if you were OK. So happy to find your blog waiting for me when I arrived at work. The answers to my questions are “yes” and “more than fine!” You are being your bravest self – so proud of you.

    A tear appeared as I read “simply because we wanted to.” As I precocious child, I was frequently asked by my now deceased father “Margaret Lillian – why did you that?” My reply was always “Just because I wanted to.” I have lost that – I hope your adventure will spurn me to do something “simply because I wanted to.”

    Take care and enjoy yourself. Looking forward to reading about your adventure.


  2. Audrey
    I am so glad that you have done this! After all the time you have given to looking out for the needs of others, it is truly time to do something just for you! Enjoy it to the fullest!!!


  3. Audrey,
    I was so excited to read your blog.
    You did it! I love that you’re living what you imagined, being “open to whatever transpires on this new path.”
    Enjoy all the ordinary and extraordinary moments of your New York life.


  4. Audrey: You have used my favourite word several times: POSSIBILITIES. How wonderful that you are having this time to be open to, savour, and take advantage of, selected possibilities. I look forward to hearing what you experience and learn. Blessings on this sabbath time.


  5. hi Audrey
    Wow! what a stunner! good for you…I’d like to hear more about your family’s response and reaction….also the planning stage…where you live and why you were drawn to that particular area….
    Yes….at least you know the language, so guess France and Italy would/might be a little more difficult..mmm
    Sounds like you have lots of support for your adventure…wow, again…I really admire your turning an idea into an actual plan and following through…kudos to you!
    Can’t wait for the next blog!
    Joan Wright


  6. Congratulations on living the dream, Audrey. I am very much looking forward to hearing how this adventure evolves. Thanks for blogging.


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