So, I left Illinois just over a year ago. Some days it feels like I just left, and other days…well…yeah. No, this is not one of those “waxing nostalgic” posts where I reminisce about the taste of Portillo’s, Chicago style pizza, or the beauty of the lake front as viewed from the Adler Planetarium. No…this is me reflecting on the reasons I left. This is me exploring the reasons why anyone takes a chance to venture out and try something new. This is me, just being me.
People always want to know why I left Chicago. Most will assume it was because of the winter. And to be honest, I cannot say that did not play into the decision making process. Others assume I left because I had a job waiting for me. You would be wrong there. I left with whatever would fit in my Jeep and a little over $1,000. There were no…zero…nada…none…in terms of jobs, job offers or job prospects. A few smart asses will say I was trying to escape a broken heart. True or untrue, that’s not exactly something you escape. My heart has been beaten up enough to warrant an escape beyond the outer atmosphere. Yet here I am.
So, why then did I take off?
The answer is simple. I was unhappy. Not with any one person and not with any one thing…just unhappy in general. Everything annoyed me. Everything sparked some kind of snarky thought or comment in some vain effort to make me feel better about myself. I was unhappy and surrounded by the colorless, gray, metallic field of the urban jungle.
And so I left.
I’m not the only one that has thought to escape in an effort to find happiness, or to find that smile. I’m not the only one who’s ever ventured into the ether in an attempt to find something that helps them look forward to every morning. I am certainly not the only one to ever do it with practically no financial resources. It happens every day. There is nothing particularly spectacular about what I did. Even the fact that I did it at age 40 and walked away from a well-established life and wealth of social and vocational contacts and opportunities is less than noteworthy. What’s noteworthy is the ridiculous notion I had that I would find happiness outside of myself.
There is a reason why people who are filthy rich and folks who live on next to nothing can both be happy. It is because they recognize that happiness exists, not in what you have or what you do for a living, but instead it exists in what and who you are. It is inside you. Loving what you do for a living is not so much about the job or the salary, but instead it is about your inner happiness being in sync with what’s available in the outside world. When we are not happy on the inside, nothing else will be in sync. Everything you do will feel like a chore. You’ll carry this heavy weight on your shoulders daily and that oppressive feeling will make you want to chuck it all and run.
That’s why people do it.
That’s why I did it.
It’s always easier to leave with the pipe dream of being able to start fresh somewhere new. The outside might be fresh and new and very exciting and stimulating. But the inside is still the same old dark, musty, cavernous abyss it was the day before.
I say all of this to ultimately shed light on one thing…it is you who are ultimately responsible for your happiness. Obama is not in charge of that, nor is he responsible for your misery. Your spouse isn’t, your children aren’t, nor your job or boss. Your city is not. Unless you live in the Midwest or Northeast between November and say…March. In that case it may very well be the city making you unhappy. Particularly if the Mayor’s street is always plowed after a massive snowfall and yours is not.
But, I digress.
Don’t worry, be happy, is a silly little song from way back when, but the message is clear and although the practice may be difficult at times…it works. Happiness inside will make everything on the outside feel so much better. Happiness and positivity on the inside will attract wonderful things, opportunities and people to you. Happiness and positivity on the inside will heighten the wonderful experiences you will have on the outside.
You will be in sync!
Bye, bye, bye!