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How to Get a Bold Bonus Life

My own most recent “extra life” was, as regular readers here know, the 18 days I spent in August as a New Yorker. I was apartment-sitting on the Upper West Side. For a year and a half, I’d had in mind the goal of enjoying a spell as a Manhattanite. It was a 60th birthday present to myself and I’m now veering dangerously close to 62.

So it took me a little while to get there, but I did and it was marvelously satisfying. I do feel as if I had an extra life. And it was my third one. The first was a month at Berkeley when I was 29, a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to study fiction. The second, three months in the Hindu holy city of Varanasi when I was 42, was when I did my research for my novel Sister India.

I’m now a permanent fan of the idea of fitting in extra lives: abridged immersions in other places, cultures, or jobs. Experiences so different from the usual, and so concentrated and intense, that they truly feel like a different life.

I mean to keep a running list of tips and thoughts and experiments here on the subject. Starting now.

Bonus Life Tip #One: Try out a bonus life with a different career. There are companies that offer the opportunity. Example: Vocation Vacations. Here’s a chance to try out (very briefly) the experience of being, say, a chocolatier, a music producer, a horse trainer, a wedding planner, a bed and breakfast owner. This is one way to go get a tiny extra life in a different career.

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Categories: bonus life, extra life, living in Manhattan, plan B

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