Since about 8pm last night, when I wrapped up my day teaching kids about magazines at summer camp, finished my first batch of New York sinigang the way my dad taught me, and settled in to finally watch a 2010 Blockbuster I’m ashamed of admitting I hadn’t seen until said-last-night — I’ve had nothing but delicious free time. Free time to watch my favorite Will & Graces, eat more sinigang out of a mug, flop around in my comforter, watch the rain fall since I woke up at 9am this morning (it was less of the usual jarring shake-awake, more of a gentle ping of a realization that my eyes were already open)…
And I’ve been thinking about the tiny, gray blip I see peeking out over the horizon — the teeny corner of the blanket of fog that is this coming winter, my first on the East Coast, my first without John, my first few months, really, completely by myself. It’s been hard making new friends, keeping up with all two of my family members this side of Vegas, not to mention keeping up with those I love on the other side. With John and the warm weather leaving… I figure I’ve got a long winter ahead.
But I got a simple start today.
A Slate article I was reading referenced Outliers’ 10,000 hours theory. I thought, I’ve got that kind of time coming up. What things would I be willing to put 10,000 hours in to master? I need something else to think about besides work. I need something else to do after work besides happy hour. So far, I’ve learned that what they (y’know, adults) mean by work-life balance is, when your work is heavy, your life should be equally so, but with things that make you feel free; light. And if you’re spending 10,000 hours countering all the work heaviness with the lightness of your choosing, they’ve gotta be things you’ve got an unreasonable, uncontrollable love for.
I thought about four things. Four times 10,000.
One of which, thankfully, I get to do for a living.
And for another one of them — improv, a shy but strong part of my still-unjaded New York dream — I spent a few hours mapping out, signing up for, buying tickets to, the entire next two weeks dedicated to getting my feet wet. My entire lower half, by the looks of my iCal.
My 10,000 hours begins at 7:00pm tonight.
I thought about how this is what the beginning of my abroad semester felt like: Uncertain, kinda lonely, wondering if you did the right thing, if you could take it back.
And this, too, is how it felt later that semester, when I couldn’t imagine a greater happiness outside of Italy; when I learned something wonderful about myself:
By nature, I will never let myself be unhappy for too long.
I lift myself up.
I will always do something about it.
It seems those rebound reflexes have only gotten quicker since then.
It ended up being the most transforming semester of my life.
And by the looks of things, I don’t expect anything less of my time here.