Monday, September 29, 2014

A Year In Paris and New York City

Today I turn 66, (Happy Birthday, Jim).

I am spending the day preparing for a house sitting stint for a home owner heading to Europe for the next six weeks. While she is away, I will house sit and care for her home and much loved feline companion. Two days after the owner returns, I will begin house sitting another home―this time for a period of almost three months. This house sit includes a very active dog that loves to chase balls and run on the nearby beach. Both these homes are within thirty to forty minutes of the apartment I live in.

So why am I house sitting for the next four to five months when I have a perfectly good place of my own to stay in and look after? Because from time to time I like to get out of my comfort zone. Because I want to challenge myself. To remind myself that despite my 66 years, there is still ‘life in the old boy, yet’. And because I want to show my friends, my family, my nephews and nieces, and anyone else who feels stuck in a rut, or afraid of trying something different, that they can challenge themselves at any age to break out of their own particular comfort zones, and try something different.

During the 1970s, I spent five and a half years living and working in London. Each summer I would head into Europe and generally end up in Greece where I have extended family (my parents were Greek). Little did I think, after I returned to Australia in September 1976, that 32 years would pass before I would once again venture away from Australian shores.

Thirty-two years!

Now I am making up for lost travel time. I have travelled to Europe and/or America every two years since 2008, and I am not done yet.

At the end of August, I returned from my latest trip―a four month extended stay in Greece and Paris―infused and excited by the idea of again spending a year living in one of the worlds great capitals. While I was in Paris, the thought occurred to me that I was free to spend the rest of my life pretty much anywhere I chose to live. It might be Adelaide, my home town, or it might be Paris, London, New York City, Berlin, or somewhere else.

Since this idea hit me in Paris, the ‘City of Lights’ was my first choice. Now that I have had time to think about it, I am still excited by the challenge and prospect of living there. I am also exploring the possibility of spending a year in New York City. Having been to New York three times, I would dearly love to spend a whole year there. Even though I have already spent a total of almost five months visiting New York City, I am not done with that most amazing and exciting of cities by a long shot.

Heck. Why not spend a year in Paris and New York City?

Why not, indeed?

Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being retired, and even those of us who are, don’t always have the freedom to pull up stakes and move away from hearth and home for twelve months. Or for greater or lesser periods. However, I firmly believe that we all have many choices available to us throughout our lives, and that we can choose to take the easy way, the comfortable way, the safe way, or we can choose the way ‘less travelled’.

After the idea to spend a year living in Paris or New York City fired my imagination, I wrote in my travel journal:

Life is short.
The clock is ticking.
If not now
So do it now.

Love The Life You Live
            ―or Change It.

At sixty-six years of age, life does indeed seem short, and the clock is definitely ticking. It may take me another year before I finally sort out all the details for my yearlong Parisian or New York sabbatical, but I am working on it. I’m working on it. Watch this space.

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