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Next Door to Brilliance

I pride myself on being large scale adaptable. I’ve rewritten that first sentence twice now, adding “large scale” because I also want to be realistic and somewhat self aware. In general, I am very Type A when we take Type A to mean structured, organized, and maybe a little too competitive. I like setting up plans and writing lists and I often know what I’ll be doing the next three Saturdays. 

While I might wake up on a Sunday morning, ambitious and eager to begin the day, I might also feel a little off track when curveballs fly. That’s why I added “large scale.” The smaller things seem to trip me up more. On the “large scale” side of things, I think I do okay. 

When my partner and I were looking for apartments earlier this year, we each had our preferred neighborhood. We spent time in both and ultimately, fell in love with a place in his first choice neighborhood. Now this should seem like a big change. After 6+ years in Manhattan, I was moving to a different borough. But large scale feels simple. Within 3 days of being in the apartment—between unpacking boxes and ordering rugs—I was enamored. 

As out-of-town friends asked about the apartment and the move, I found the first thing I wanted to talk about was the neighborhood. Every day when I went outside felt like a grand adventure. I was exploring new areas, reading coffee shop menus, comparing the vegan options at different grocery stores. Large scale change: easy.

This idea also applies to the less-than-ideal. In general, I have found myself able to make difficult situations work. Whether it's a toxic work environment, an unhappy living situation, or an uncomfortable health problem, I have figured out how to be okay. Even when it feels like many things are working against me, and perhaps in spite of many things working against me, I have forced myself to thrive.

So imagine my surprise when, upon moving into this new apartment two months ago, I suddenly felt different… like I wasn’t swimming upstream anymore. It was so drastic and immediate, this positive change. When effort isn’t being expended to fight something, energy can redirect to creativity, to peace, to joy. 

It’s very new—the us living together thing—but within a week, I found a new phrase rattling in my brain, how lovely it is to live next door to brilliance. 

How lovely it is to work at our respective desks and then share stories from each other’s industries that on our own we’d know nothing about. 

How lovely it is to watch someone’s brain work and in ways that feel so different than how my own does.

How lovely it is to want to be near someone, even if just on the other end of the sofa, co-existing as we dive into our own projects.

How lovely it is to feel inspired and encouraged and to be able to bounce ideas and dreams off the person just down the hall. 

You might be good at doing things the hard way. And to be clear, you should be proud of all that you have lived through. 

But it’s also okay to live a gentle life. And if you are so lucky, to set up your world in a way that brings tranquility and a splash of brilliance. 


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