California is in the midst of a severe drought. The water is running out, the rain is absent, and the lawns are brown. Looking for lush, green grass? You’ll have to look elsewhere. Does your life ever feel this way? Your current life situation—community, relationships, art, culture—does it feel like it’s drying up? Perhaps you should look on the other side of the fence because, you know, the grass is always greener over there. Just look. It’s so inviting, so beautiful. It has everything that this old, dry side doesn’t have. Find a gate, climb over the fence, or just knock down that fence. Whatever it takes to get to the other side, where you can roll around in the grass, giggle like a little schoolgirl and experience the best that life has to offer.
Or don’t. In fact, please don’t. The green grass over there could be a mirage.
I’m the kind of individual who loves adventure, new challenges, and change. Throughout my 20’s my tendency was to tiptoe over to the fence and stare longingly at the other side, believing the green grass over there would finally provide contentment. But it didn’t and I learned it never would. Because as soon as I would get there, and the newness of the place would wear off or things would get difficult, I would tiptoe to the next fence and peek over, thinking, “Oooh, look how green the grass is over there. I need to go there.” And the cycle would continue. And not only would I feel discontent, but I would also miss opportunities to invest more effectively in my community, my relationships, and my art.
But, back to Northern California. I lived in San Francisco post-college during the first dot-com boom. It was an amazing time with many adventures, and I developed relationships I still enjoy today. My heart never fully left San Francisco, and I always sensed that I would return. During the first months of this year, as my wife and I explored the possibility of returning to the US (we lived in Thailand the past year) to pursue new business opportunities and put down deeper roots in a community, San Francisco kept jumping to the forefront of the conversation. Honestly, it didn’t make a lot of sense. Most of my work up to this point had focused on serving NGO’s, which didn’t exactly lend itself toward living in the most expensive city in the country. And even though I lived in the city twelve years ago, neither my wife nor I had a significant history with the area, and we didn’t have a lot of family here. Why settle here? Despite the seeming impracticality of life in San Francisco, I had been creatively and professionally transitioning toward new pursuits that pointed to settling in a larger urban center. I had also been having conversations with friends in San Francisco about the need, and opportunities, for building greater community and collaboration amongst artists in the city. In addition, I was having conversations about new collaborative projects with friends with whom I shared similar vision and values (see http://ashco.co). I was sensing it was time to return to San Francisco, and to commit to investing long-term in the community.
So, here I am in San Francisco. It’s my home, and I’m excited about the possibilities for life, work, and relationships. And though there might be seasons of drought when I’m tempted to wander, I’m committed to doing my part to faithfully water my own grass.
Do you sometimes feel tempted to pursue greener grass elsewhere? I won’t tell you not to, but do consider the possibility that your side of the fence—your community, your relationships, your work—needs you to stick around and figure out how to responsibly water the grass right where you’re at.