Published February 13, 2007 by Sara Davidson
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, who’s 82 and my favorite person to dance with, told me there’s one thing that determines whether you suffer or have joy as you get older.
Take a guess?
Change. How you deal with change. Do you roll with it, or cling to the rocks and get thrashed? While doing research for my new book, Leap! What Will We Do with the Rest of our Lives? I found there are numerous approaches to change: 1) Fight it 2) Initiate change yourself. Reb Zalman started learning Arabic at 80. 3) Turn it to your advantage (the judo approach) 4) Put a positive spin on it even if it’s fake. As a businessman said when his product became obsolete: “Here it comes — another goddamned opportunity for growth” 5) Re-pot the plant.
Moving to a new location is like giving a plant new soil. Who knows what might sprout in the rich new earth? If your life is withering and brown and you decide to move, I guarantee that right before you do, you’ll meet the love of your life or get the job offer you’ve been waiting for and everything will become so sweet and perfect that why are you leaving?
Do it anyway. I went through this when I was about to move from my beautiful home in L.A. to Colorado, where I knew no one. Sure enough, two weeks before packing up the car, I met a man who seemed such a perfect match that after our first date, I dropped to my knees, looked skyward and said, Thank you for bringing me together with my soul mate! The new love drove me and my car to Colorado and I flew back to see him every few weeks until it became apparent that the whole thing was a bubble that was bound to burst. His function, it seemed, was to escort me from point A to point B, then disappear.
By the time he did, though, I’d settled in a Victorian house in a historic district near a wealth of hiking trails. Within a few months, I had more friends-people with whom I could connect deeply-than I’d had in L.A. after 30 years. In the new terrain — high mountains and brilliant sun- I found, without noticing how or when, that the creative juices were flowing again. Hell, I was flourishing.
But it might have been a disaster. The great thing about moving is that if it doesn’t work out, you can make a course correction. Sometimes you need to try a new place or job to find out what’s not right for you, which is just as important as learning what is.
Sara Davidson also blogs for the Huffington Post. To read an excerpt from Leap!, click here.