4: An Object in Motion

4: An Object in Motion

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

An Object in Motion

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves — in finding themselves.

~André Gide

I stared at the blinking cursor and took a slow, deep breath. “To Whom It May Concern,” I typed. “I hereby tender my resignation.” After finishing the letter, I returned to the date field and typed April 6, 2015 — exactly one year in the future. Then I printed the document, signed it, and placed it on the corner of my desk.

I’d waited ten years for a good reason to leave Indiana. I was done waiting.

Isaac Newton said, “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion.” If I wanted my life to change, I realized I had to put things in motion myself — no one was going to do it for me.

“There’s more than corn in Indiana!” the billboards read once you get within thirty miles of Indiana Beach. The amusement park opened in 1926 and attracted visitors with its hand-dug beach (carved out of a cornfield) and its pair of thirty-foot-long toboggan runs. For the record, the billboards are true. There is more than corn in Indiana. We have soybeans, too.

After graduating from Indiana University, I had applied for jobs in and out of state. In the end, I accepted a position with a fast-growing tech start-up headquartered in downtown Indianapolis. It wasn’t my intention to stay with the same company in the same city for a decade. It just happened.

I got promoted, developed a strong network of friends, and invested in grown-up purchases like a washer and dryer and bookcases that didn’t have screw-on plywood backs. Before I knew it, ten years had passed.

To be fair, those years were not without joy, personal growth, and excitement. I took up kickboxing and yoga, got my master’s degree, and wrote my first novel. I traveled abroad and across the United States. I went. I saw. I returned to Indiana.

I got comfortable — too comfortable. Each day became more or less the same — wake up, go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed. Rinse and repeat. As I approached the ten-year mark, my company was acquired and my colleagues began to resign and move on to new adventures. Meanwhile, my circle of single friends dwindled. They married and had children, while I cooked dinner for one and took solo vacations. Indiana isn’t an encouraging place to be single in your thirties.

“It’s not like that in California,” my older sister said whenever I called to grumble. “You’ve got to get out of the Midwest.”

I also longed for the horseback riding days of my youth. The rich smell of freshly oiled leather, the gentle nickering of horses eager for breakfast, their velveteen muzzles — it was heaven on earth. But riding had faded away to make way for a career, grad school, and “more important things.” Now, my only nearby options were head-to-tail trail rides.

The breaking point came one day during my morning commute when I had a startling realization. I’d stopped seeing anything. I’d stopped viewing my day-to-day life with any sense of wonder or curiosity. I’d seen this exact road — and these exact miles — more than five thousand times.

Indiana didn’t need to change. I did.

If not here, then where? The answer came in the form of a memory — the first morning of my Cowgirl Yoga retreat outside Bozeman, Montana the year before. I had awoken to guttural, prehistoric squawks outside my window. I bolted upright and slid my sleeping mask to my forehead. Our yoga teacher had closed our practice the night before with a warning: overzealous songbirds often begin their chorus in the wee hours of the morning. But, it wasn’t a songbird I’d heard. It was a dinosaur.

“Those are the sandhill cranes,” our instructor said, when we unrolled our mats in the barn loft later that morning and settled into Sukhasana, or easy-seated pose. Part of the whooping crane family, the birds have exceptionally long windpipes that carry their primitive calls more than a mile.

It turned out the cranes were just the first of many surprises that awaited me in The Last Best Place. We moved onto our hands and knees and began a series of Cat-Cows to get the blood flowing. That was about the time hail began pelting the barn windows — in June.

After a blissful week of yoga and horseback riding, I drove to Yellowstone National Park to see geysers, American bison, and Old Faithful. Then, I traveled to Big Sky and over the lush green hills of eastern Idaho, and then down to Jackson, Wyoming, where I cheered for barrel racers and bronco riders at the rodeo, enjoyed a local yoga class, and visited Grand Teton National Park. I took my camera everywhere. There was so much to see.

As I stared at my resignation letter six months later, I couldn’t get Montana off my mind. I’d already booked two more retreats for later that year. Maybe Bozeman was where I belonged? In the months leading up to my return, I researched. I planned. I watched the real estate market. I downloaded the Bozeman relocation guide and read it cover to cover. The more I put in motion, the more attainable my dream became.

When I returned to Montana for my second retreat, I met with real estate agents and visited dozens of local establishments — from the public library to doggie day cares, from martial arts gyms to the local co-op. I rented a little house downtown so I could get a better feel for Bozeman life.

I walked to the tea shop and uncorked tiny glass jars filled with dry leaf teas on the “sniff wall” before making my selections. I strolled aisle after aisle of fresh fruits and vegetables at the co-op. I visited downtown shops and cafés and drove through dozens of neighborhoods. One evening, a friend invited me to go horseback riding at her ranch. As we galloped through sun-kissed fields, her Border Collie hot on our heels, my vision clicked into place.

I would move to Montana, alone.

That night, I sent a text to a friend in San Francisco to share the good news.

“Guess what?” I said.

“You’re finally moving to San Fran?”

“Close.”

“You’re moving to a town with a population of seven,” he joked.

“Soon to be eight!”

“Three of which are horses….”

“Isn’t it fabulous?”

My goal is to move next summer, and I set more of my plan in motion each day. I haven’t resigned, and I may not need to if my company is flexible. It’s not easy to make a huge life change when there’s no one asking, telling, or making you. Seems like it’d be easier, but it’s not. Because there’s only you — alone in your apartment night after night — wondering if it’ll all be worth it. You wonder if you can do this — if you can do this alone.

The thing is, you can.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”

Put things in motion. Momentum will get you the rest of the way.

~Nicole K. Ross

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