New York, New York: The Need for Growth

In an earlier post (“Bravery or Desperation: The Leaps We Take“), I shared a little bit of our family’s story, how we came to the decision to disrupt our lives with a major move to Denver with few connections and no job prospects, all for the sake of pursuing creativity. As you’ve probably figured out, the story isn’t over, yet; not two months ago, our family of artists took another major leap, this time from Denver to New York. As I write this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Brooklyn Heights a block and a half away from the East River in New York City, taking a break between phrases to admire the spring blossoms on the trees that line this street (if you’ve never been here…yes, there are trees in New York City). It’s a rare moment of quiet on an adventure that has been loaded with stress, but also with a lot of hope and anticipation.

But why? We had it great in Denver. We had a community, we had a great place to live, we had natural beauty around us. Why would we disrupt our lives again?

One word: growth.

Growth Is Essential

As artists, it is absolutely essential that we are always growing, always developing. It’s a key to our creative thrust. Anything that isn’t growing starts to die, no matter how amazing the environment happens to be. Don’t misunderstand: Denver is a great place to nurture growth, and there are a lot of creative people who are thriving there. Denver was very good to us as a family, a haven of rest after many years of turmoil and turbulence. I had a front-row seat to watch my wife go from zero experience to becoming a thriving artist with her own artistic voice. I watched my son The Director take quantum leaps in his filmmaking skills. And my own musical gifts, which had gone practically dormant over the previous years, came back to life in Denver. To say this was a place of healing for us would be an understatement.

But for whatever reason, at some point we had stopped growing. We had a good life overall, but we had perhaps gotten too comfortable, and it began to reflect in all of us in one way or another. The Wild One’s paintings were a higher quality than ever, but almost inexplicably her sales began to slack off. I began to grow bored with the music opportunities I had, my motivation began flagging, and my music blogging grew stale. The Director perhaps felt it the most, as he realized he was hitting a threshold as to how much he could accomplish as a filmmaker in this part of the world–and as he watched almost all of his friends from the film community move away inside of a year.

It soon became apparent that our season in Denver had been an incubator for us, a nesting place for our art to be born anew. But our nest was now being stirred, and now, ironically, to remain where we were simply out of stability or comfort could become fatal for us creatively. We knew we had to leave the nest.

So then the obvious question: where?

Because of The Director’s and my connections to film, it seemed pretty obvious that our next destination should be one of the coasts: Los Angeles or New York. Having been raised in California myself, I was familiar enough with the L.A. vibe, yet after researching for several months, we simply couldn’t find any affordable scenario that would give us any quality of life. So we decided to look east.

Having not spent much time on the east coast, we decided to take an exploratory road trip last fall. After stopping a few days in Philadelphia to explore, we parked our car and took a train into NYC. As soon as we stepped out of Penn Station into the city, we could feel the pulsing energy of the place, and it was immediately inspiring. It sounds a bit mystical, I suppose, but in the crowds of people going from place to place, it was as if we could feel the sense of purpose, the sense of big things being done, the dreamers moving toward their dreams. Within a short period of time, despite knowing the odds and the expenses of living in a place like this…I think we all realized we had to try.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and I think there is truth to that. A few months before, I could see absolutely no way we could make a move to New York. But in the past, when we’ve made a decision to do something, the pathways seem to present themselves–and it was true in this case, as well. By the time we made it back to Denver, we had a game plan in place for how we could make the move. Definitely not without its risks, but it worked, and here we are.

The Aftermath…

Now having been in New York for a couple of months, we’re getting used to a whole new lifestyle, particularly one that involves not having a car. We’re still working on building the income streams that will enable us to stay here long-term, but it’s apparent to us that we’re in the right place for this time in our lives, and we are in a place where we can grow. Here’s a sampling of some of the interesting things that have happened just since we’ve been here:

  • The Director has made several important connections, one of which led to spending time as a P.A. on a film shoot for a major motion picture. He has also found several new potential collaborators.
  • The Wild One, within a week of getting her new studio space functional, landed the largest commission of her career so far.
  • I, too, have made several important connections, including several full-time composers in the area, from whom I am gleaning as much wisdom as I can. I’m also availing myself of the many opportunities for musical inspiration, having discovered some affordable ways to listen in on some of the best symphony orchestras in the world.
  • Just this past week, I discovered, quite by accident, that one of the largest film/TV production lots outside of Los Angeles is in walking distance from our apartment. (Don’t know what that means just yet, but it’s gotta mean something.)

It was definitely an unconventional move, and one that involves risk. It wasn’t the first such move we’ve made, and knowing us, it may not be the last. But so far, it’s one that is enriching our lives and providing us the room to grow that we so desperately needed.

And so the story continues…I’ll keep you posted, if you’re interested.