The first thing I learned is that it is not at all difficult to change. When we first talked about the idea of taking with us only what would fit in our car, it was hard to imagine! As we began sorting, we were hesitant to rid ourselves of our possessions. I finally marked off a space in our den the size of our car's interior and started putting things in it. Six bins of stuff. Two suitcases. Two hangup bags. Two smaller suitcases for "daily" use. Nine blank canvases. Two easels. One painting. One backpack. One bag of shoes. Two umbrellas. A tool box. A tiny statue of St. Joseph. A large bottle of water. A briefcase. A small box of keepsakes. A laptop. And that's all.
And everything that didn't fit was sold, donated, trashed or given to friends. Painlessly. Joyously. Seriously--I was shocked at how easy it was to let go of the things I had valued only a few days earlier.
I encourage everyone to take a look at your possessions. Look at each small item, each large one. And decide whether it is important to you and why. You might find that they are not treasures, but burdens that require maintenance and commitment.
As soon as we left East Texas, I saw people and things that were not familiar. We drove through communities and cities that were not ours. And I was reminded of why I like to travel. It stretches my brain. It forces me to consider things that are different and things that are the same. It reminded me forcefully that we are small. Each of us. And our circumstances are not the circumstances of everyone else. What must it be like to be a night clerk in a hotel? What must it be like to not be able to afford to stay in a hotel? To carry all of your possessions, not in your car, but in your backpack?
We were in a restaurant today in a very small town in Oregon, and the waitress asked us, "Where are you from?" I was shocked! How did she know we were travelers? I don't think of myself as having a Texas twang... And then I realized that we were probably the only people in the place that she didn't know by name.
I was reminded of twelve years ago when we moved "to town." We had been living about ten miles out in the country and decided it would be more convenient to live closer to the school where I taught. In some ways it felt so decadent to have almost immediate access to things like ice cream sundaes and other impulse purchases. Emphasis on impulse.
When I am trying to make a decision, I often employ the process of listing columns of pluses and minuses. As we were driving, I thought about the positives and negatives of living a life of isolation. I have a strong reclusive impulse, but I also appreciate convenience. (More on that later.)
Another reason we moved is a little harder to explain. I can't speak for David, but I have the urge to insert myself into a different environment to see what I can learn about myself. And I wonder how this move will influence my art, and my writing. I have neglected my writing horribly, and now I am thinking about it more and more.
Today I had a small yet huge epiphany. I had been thinking of this move as somehow resetting my life, changing bad habits, trying new things. Today it occurred to me that there are really no turning points in life. It is more like merging from one highway to another. And sometimes we even have to withdraw from traffic altogether. But we are still moving. Even if we don't realize it. And it is a moving experience. I am so thankful to be here. On this planet. In this body. Behind these eyes.
I will close today with this: