Sometimes keeping in touch is a frivalous business. You forward on the latest funny email, or you chat but mostly about the last movie you saw or what crazy thing someone at work did the other day. It takes time to settle into conversation that means something and you don't always have the time to give it.
This weekend was empty and it gave me the chance to phone or chat online to three different friends that I don't catch up with often (or often enough). The conversations were varied, but they all had a couple of common themes. One was a sense of decision-making - thinking about where life is at, what the next step might be and why. The second was the lack of superficiality. It seemed like every topic we came to was pressing, interesting, totally relevent to the things that are pivotal in most people's lives: love, work, sex, morals/ethics, attraction, money, belief. Maybe all that pondering on the whole of life and what was really important in deciding a next step forward also brought out the 'deep and meaningful' of other aspects of life, I don't know. I do know it was a very interesting weekend.
I won't go into all those topics here - some things I wouldn't blog and others wouldn't come across like they did in the original conversations - but I will say something about 'next steps'.
Occasionally making life-changing decisions is exciting. I had no doubts about taking the job in Japan. Though it was full of unknowns, I knew it was a good decision. I needed the change; I'd always liked teaching teenagers; and I certainly needed some adventure. I had no romantic ties; it was good timing. And off I went.
Coming back wasn't like that. I didn't know exactly where I wanted to live or work. The unknowns weren't exciting - they loomed grey and scary in the sky above. And missing Japan didn't help.
Then I had a bit of an epiphany. It didn't really matter what the next step was, as long as I took it. The one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to move interstate. So I picked a city where I knew I had a few good friends and then applied for a lot of jobs. I had no sense at the time of where the move would take me personally or professionally. But the unknowns were ones I could deal with.
One of the most important things I found out from moving to Canberra was that I don't want to live here forever. That doesn't mean it was the wrong decision. It's all just part of the process.