Vail, Arizona, United States

March 19, 2017

Leave the Party While You're Still Having Fun

I'm back in the Sonoran desert this week, the place I really come from - and I'd planned to write you a piece filled with the language and soul and connection I feel in this place.

It would touch on the solitude, the way beautiful things sometimes have spiny edges, and would contain words like tumbleweed and sun-scorched rock.

But over the last few days here, my mind has wandered over and over along the same thought:

Leave the party while you're still having fun.

It's a time-tested truth, and it applies to social events as well as it does to jobs or relationships.

A great friend of mine quoted the corollary for runners, when stepping down from a non-profit she'd shepherded for the past 10 years of her life:

Leave some on the road.

To me, the essence is simple - there are times it makes sense to give it all, in one mad flourish - and those times are when you know there's an end. A game. A presentation or paper due. A project with concrete goals.

But for everything else, leave while you're still fully present, and really there. Don't wait until you're burnt out, giving your fellow guests and friends a little shell of yourself, then meander out the side door sheepishly, wondering to yourself, “why didn't I leave a few hours ago?”

The reason it's been on my mind these past days - is Ink and Feet and these letters.

Next week, I'll be getting on another transoceanic flight. But for the first time in two and a half years, I'll be going back to the same place I was, instead of heading somewhere new. While I'm hoping to have some travels in the months ahead, it seems increasingly likely that this country-hopping life I've led looks to be a chapter of my life that's closed behind me.

The repercussions are huge, both emotionally, and in the practical realities of my writing and work.

I've always felt that these letters were about living authentically - my journey and yours. But the narrative thread that pulled us all together was travel.

Exploring different cultures together, reflecting on what was found, conversing about how crazy it was that we both lived on this tiny rock in space with enough water and sunlight and atmosphere to support all of us living things on it - and all of our different ways of being alive.

And without that constant new, without the continuous churn of having my world turned upside down and learning new languages and ways of seeing the world, I don't honestly know what that thread is, and what these letters become.

In truth - that both scares me and makes me excited.

Throughout my life, I've learned to tend to my time and energy like it was a small garden in which I grew everything in my life.

No matter what I do, I never get more space, more sunlight, or more water. I can only grow so many things on those resources.

And the only way to make the space for something new to grow - is to let go of something else.

I've known that the shift in my life from permanently single nomadic writer to dude who is partnered to someone from New Zealand would have consequences.

But here in the desert, in this land where every twig and the tiniest gecko fight for each drop of water, I'm reminded of what it will mean for my garden.

The only things that grow in our lives are the things to which we give our space and our time and ourselves.

So this week, here in the late hours just before I hit send, I don't actually have some definite conclusion to give you. I think the letter will change. I'm not sure how - maybe we'll find some other thread to pull us through this fantastic exploration of life. Maybe we won't. Maybe I'll take up beekeeping, and write to you about that (note: I can almost guarantee that's not happening.)

But no matter what, we'll still have life and this crazy world to keep us on our toes. And no matter what, we'll still be in this together.

Have a great week, and thanks so much for taking a few minutes out of your Sunday to share it with me. It really does mean the world. :)

-Steven

p.s. The best thing I read all week was about this interesting world of chat bots we're increasingly living in: the first chatbot to be arrested.

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