I’m hearing voices in my head again.
Ancient voices heard only from time to time. They are only heard a few times in your life and only if you are quiet enough to hear them. I heard them once before. Twenty years ago, in fact. I was living in Maryland and ready for a change and had a dream one night that I was lost in the Rockies of Colorado. I came upon a cabin in my dream and knocked on the door and Stefanie Smith answered. Stef was an old friend from High School who I hadn’t seen in years. I woke up the next day and called around to see if I could track her down and I got her mom on the phone. “Mrs. Smith, it’s Jonah Berger from high school, where’s Stef?” “You just missed her, she moved to Denver two days ago.” I got a feeling in my soul. A notion that goes lightyears beyond coincidence. It would have been so easy to have a laugh and let it go. Yet that day, on that particular day, I was unable to write it off. I was already absorbing it. It was a voice, and it was speaking to me. And I heard it loud and clear. I turned to my friend Marc who I was living with and I said very simply, “I’m moving to Colorado.”
As a result of not only hearing the voice, but changing my entire life on its behalf, I found my destiny. I went out and met my life. I found a community of friends in Colorado, I found peace of mind, I found my career, I found my independence, I found my pace, I found my sweet Megan, and I found my precious Amelia. All of which go away if I didn’t have the chutzpah to act bravely on behalf of the voice.
After 20 years in the beautiful state of Colorado, and recently since the arrival of my daughter, I heard the voice again. It wasn’t as much in one moment as it was last time. It was gradual. Yet speaking to me all the same. This time, I required less chutzpah to make big changes on its behalf. I heard it, and I said, “Where are we goin’?” The voice was the call to make the changes to my life in order to catch up to the difference of having a child. In the first months of her life, we have tried to adjust to her presence and juggle all the components of our usual life and quite simply, it isn’t sustainable. Megan and I are too busy with our schedules and living in too crowded and fast-paced a city to adequately honor all that Amelia is requiring from us. The issue is mostly mine. I have for a long time juggled multiple roles that add up to my workload. I have four email addresses and hold responsibilities in every corner of the Denver Metro area and beyond. These were all roles that were based in my passion and that I loved with all of my heart. Yet, there were weeks where I literally felt like I was fitting Amelia into my schedule. And that is not the parent I wish to be. I have had my time to run all over and live a completely weird schedule. I had twenty years of it. And enjoyed it all. I am proud to say that I pay my bills on my terms. Yet, Amelia has opened a new desire in me. One that is not focused on me. One that is focused on her. On serving her. And Megan. And slowing down the train to develop the focus needed to absorb this precious and pivotal time. I love Denver. I love every bit of my Colorado experience. And I love the friends I have made as the permanent family that they are. I can also say that I love Amelia and Megan the most. And I owe it to the both of them to be the best I can for them. And so, after quieting our minds for a time, Megan and I have come to hear what the voice is saying. The time has come to move to Michigan. We are looking at small towns just outside of Lansing where Megan’s family lives. We will have Grandparents, Great Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends all nearby. We will sell our home in Denver and purchase most of a house in Michigan outright. We will have a little more space than we could ever afford in Denver. And we will be part of a community that is small and connected. After growing up in the Washington, DC Metro area, and spending the last twenty years in the Denver Metro Area, I am going to be a small-town man. Living a slower and quieter life. And I couldn’t be happier about it. I have been offered to expand my youth leader role with the CMTA into a full-time position. The CMTA team all work remotely so when I am not traveling, I will work from home. One job, for the first time in many years. This move will also put us exponentially closer to Maryland. An eight-hour drive or a short flight from Rockville, which allows us to be more connected to my family and friends back east.
These voices in my head seldom speak this strong. And based on past experience, I can do no smarter thing than to listen. And trust, with every bit of my heart, that Michigan is where we belong. When I have made changes on behalf of the voice in the past, challenges and all, things work out as they are supposed to. I’ll admit, I’m nervous. Good and scared in moments. Adjusting to this new chapter will not be automatic. Or maybe it will be.
Afterall, the voices in my head seem to know what they are talkin’ about!