It’s been three weeks since I left Brooklyn. I left Brooklyn to write. With only two bags packed — one with clothes and one with thirty of my journals — I headed to Canada for the summer. I headed back to the scene that changed my life.
Back in May, I was buckling underneath the burden of trying to make it in New York City. Like everyone else who moves there, I had a dream. I had a dream to be a writer and I thought I’d be able to make it just by proxy of being there. I imagined myself mingling with other artists and creatives, as well as publishing small stories and articles in local and possibly national magazines. And of course I knew this would be a lot of hard work; but after everything I’d already been through — swift losses, such as the unexpected deaths of my parents, and more intentional losses such as quitting my Ph.D and moving back to the states, I felt up to the task. I felt this way because I think bringing dreams to life takes an equal measure of grit and grace, and I was certain I had both.
As you might imagine, my story didn’t work out as I had hoped. My time was spent working multiple jobs just to make ends meet, while flashing big smiles on social media to tell everyone how great New York was. But each day I was distancing myself from my writing. And this was during a time when I felt strongly, in every cell of my body, that writing was all I had left. That it was what I had to do. What I must do to live. But the thing is, stress kills creativity. Big time.
One morning I showed up to my yoga studio in tears. There was no joy in my life. There was no joy and I was not writing. My yoga teacher suggested that I take a trip for some perspective. I told her I couldn’t because I couldn’t afford it. Though, after yielding to my posture of resistance, I decided she was right. What I couldn’t afford was letting go of my intentions. So I arbitrarily chose Montreal because it was far enough away to give a sense of perspective, but also close enough for me to afford to go.
I knew I was onto something the moment the train carved through the Hudson Valley. The richly green vistas and wide open sky urged words from my pen at a rapid pace. I was writing like I’d never written before. I was alive!
My three day excursion in the discreetly French yet starkly North American city of Montreal created a strange and curious tension for my senses. Every sight, sound, and texture I came into contact with was inspiring to me. But what was even more resounding was the sense of calm over the city, the calm I felt in myself, my dwelling place, the place in my core where passion is born.
Without the aggressive, non-stop, high-achieving, energy of New York, I felt free enough to write. And so when I returned to Brooklyn, I knew what I had to do. I had a vision. My ambition to write a book was clear enough that I was motivated to risk everything again. To leave New York, to leave everything behind.
If I had to define grace, I’d say that it is the unyielding awareness of the path that lies before you. Before any of us. I would also say that grace is the patience to bear witness to every step it takes to arrive. Stress might kill creativity, but passion fuels it. I had no choice but to leave New York and head toward another uncertain future— Because possibility has turned into my most favorite space.
Jocelyn M. Ulevicus is a writer, painter, novice photographer and wanderer. Her work wishes to tell stories in a capacity for which to assign a meaningful, accessible, and loving language to themes of loss, trauma, and heartache. Her work can be viewed on her website: ardentheart.me; IG @beautystills; or she can be contacted directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. She currently working on a collection of short essays.
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