The Curse of the Next Thing

newcastle bar beach

Life these days is very much in limbo.

Jared and I are living in the back bedroom of his parents’ house, which automatically makes me feel more like a teenager than a 36-year-old married homeowner.

Jared gets up at 4am Monday through Thursday to go work in an uncomfortably hot warehouse, where he makes giant bolts for state roadworks. Alternatively, he works the afternoon shift from 2:30pm to 12am doing the same thing in slightly cooler temperatures.

It sounds horrible, but it’s actually a reasonable temporary gig.

After weeks of roaming around the house with my laptop, I’ve just started my own temp job, writing procedures for a company in the rail industry. (Oddly, this is despite my distinct lack of experience with the rail industry.) Again, something that may not sound thrilling but is a handy way to sock away extra funds before we move to the US.

Our primary goal is to save money while we wait for Jared’s visa, so the life excitement level is pretty low at the moment. It fits with the way I’ve lived for the past decade-plus: work heaps, move to a new country or travel, repeat. I’m currently in hibernation mode, consumed by planning for the Next Thing.

Even when were traveling around Australia, it was hard not to look ahead to the next destination. We were constantly plotting our route, checking the weather forecast, and researching caravan parks.

The difference is that the Australian road trip was an event of its own, so I was still able to immerse myself in the day-to-day moments. It’s hard not to be present when you’re hiking through a gorge or scanning the ocean for humpback whales.

I’ve never been great at enjoying myself during the off-season, when I’m preparing for the Next Thing. A lot of it has to do with saving cash, but more than that it’s because I struggle to settle into my life when I know there’s a big change coming.

It’s rare that you go straight from one Big Thing to the Next Thing. There’s usually a waiting period in between, and that’s where we are now. What’s frustrating is that I should be enjoying this time, but I’m not.

It bothers me, because Australia is a holiday destination. More specifically, Newcastle is a holiday destination.

Splash pool Newy
Pretty sweet spot to live.

I live in Newcastle, therefore I have the opportunity to feel like I’m on vacation all the time, but I don’t.

It must be me, I think. I’m missing something.

Some vital element that would enable me to fully connect with my surroundings must be switched off, or else I would truly appreciate my life.

So I try to engage with my surroundings.

I drive to the beach to go for a run along the ocean. I take Pilates classes to try something new. I go to the library and collect books. I buy $5 puzzles from K-Mart and do them more than once.

It’s not enough, though. I still feel like I’m rattling around inside my life, waiting to be let out.

It’s so hard to focus on the now when you’re looking forward to the future, but the now is all we’ve got for sure. That’s the curse of the Next Thing: it gives me something exciting to focus on, but I also use it as an excuse to coast through the present on autopilot.

I can’t shake the feeling that I should be better. After years of this work-play cycle, I should be better at making the most out of whatever time I have, instead of squandering the opportunity presented by this limbo period.

But then I think about why I continue to arrange my life in ebbs and flows, and it’s because it works. The limbo time gives me clarity. I love having free time to write and pitch, but only if I’ve also got a steady income. On the flip side, spending Monday through Friday in an office makes my soul sad.

I can do it for a few months, but not forever. Ultimately, I thrive on a combination of independence and security—something I learned while working and waiting.

The limbo period consistently reinforces that balance is what keeps me going. And not just balance in my days, but balance in the way those days add up over time and create my life.

If I wasn’t forced to take a break between big events, I wouldn’t get the chance to experience all of these temporary little lifestyles that show me what works and what doesn’t. It’s not really a curse, but one of those sneaky blessings in disguise.

Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself while I wait.

Curse of the Next Thing_Lateral Movements Blog

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  1. We live at the beach in Alabama. Rarely do we get the opportunity to actually ENJOY the beach. We took our boat out 1 time last year. It is sad.

  2. I live in Florida and my house is very close to the beach.But barely I got the time to visit there.I hardly visit the beach once in a month if I got the time.

  3. How about that for perfect timing?! It’s almost go time …1 more month…for me to move into a new home in a new town to start a new life…while I recover from breast cancer surgery… Sigh… After that are plans to convert a camper and travel for a bit! So! Chin up & enjoy the slower moments of now right now is what I’m finding myself learning. 😊

    1. Good luck to you in your move, surgery, recovery and camper plan! And thanks for the reminder to enjoy the slower moments – we are now two weeks away from departure to the states and suddenly it feels like things are moving very fast.

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