A Small Corner of the World

My decision two years ago to quit the sales industry and begin writing full-time has come with consequences. Most are superb consequences, some are unfortunate, some are merely different.

On occasion, I act at a local hospital. It’s a nearly perfect setup: because I sit at home all day, staring at a computer screen, it’s a welcome chance to get out, stretch my legs, and... y’know... talk to people (as opposed to myself or a blank page). Today, I decided to stop off at a local coffee shop on the way home. I could work there for a bit, then come home and finish up.

While I was there, I noticed something.

The things that seem important to me while I’m home, whether I’m working or not, tend to fall away while I’m out and about. These are small things: changes I want to make to my office setup at home, or a tweak to my website. I need to listen to more podcasts, or I need to read more, or I need to read better. The playlist I made for creative writing doesn’t differ enough from the playlist I made for copywriting. The leak under the sink needs fixed; I need to call the bank before Thursday.

All of these things occupy my mind when I’m home (and I’m home a lot). Walking the downtown city streets on a beautiful afternoon, though, they fade away. They shrink, from things that, once they accumulate, weigh me down, to things that are so light that they’re swept away by the breeze.

I wonder how often we do this.

Perspective is a skill. Find someone who seems to have mastered life and you’ll find someone who’s mastered the art of perspective. This is why frequent travel is so highly recommended, so sought after, so therapeutic. It puts our problems — indeed, even our successes — into perspective.

It doesn’t take a trip to Rome to gain some perspective, though. All it takes is a little lesson in mindfulness. A walk can have the same effect, or a simple dinner with friends, or a round of golf. By all means, when you get the chance, travel. But don’t underestimate the power of traveling deep into the worlds just outside of your bubble. Take a walk into that adjacent neighborhood you’ve never really seen. Take a detour home from work. Call your friends, and tell them to meet you for drinks at a pub to which you’ve never been.

The road less travelled is not simply a path you’ve never taken; it’s a world you’ve never seen. It’s not a career path or a different fate (though it can be those things). No, it’s not nearly so heavy. The road less traveled is just a small piece of the world — your world — that you’ve never seen. And it’s usually just around the corner.