Take a good long look around your life. Look around your home, your garage and the shed in the back yard. Do you have a storage unit? Imagine the contents of every drawer or shelf. Imagine things tucked away in an attic or basement or those closet shelves. Do you have any boxes filled with stuff? Can you imagine touching each and every single one of your possessions and then making a decision about its future? If you were to move somewhere and were limited to taking only six or seven large suitcases and leaving the rest behind, that is exactly what you would have to do. It is exactly what we have had to do.
Setting aside for the moment the physical work required to sort through all these items, there are mental and emotional gymnastics involved. In addition to going through the entire house, we’ve moved things from storage units and dealt with several large boxes filled with family photos and albums, mementos and cherished keepsakes from children, grandchildren and our own past. Each item was touched and decisions had to be made to keep (taking up precious luggage space), pass along, discard or donate. Imagine doing this for every family photo that has yet to be digitized (yeah…we wish we had done that years ago). Which items will have such value, either practical or emotional, that it must make the trip? Which family member will be the recipient of which items? Then there is the repacking of such items and sending them along to the receiving friend or family member.
It seems like those of us who move offshore fall into one of two general categories. We either reduce our lives to the number of suitcases we may bring with us or we pack all of our “stuff” into a large sea-going container for transport to our new location. Diane and I are in the former category but know of folks in the latter.
Throughout this process, I have touched every aspect of my life through long-lost mementos and photographs. Each photo, plaque or memento took me on a brief journey. Both Diane and I sat for hours going through our respective family photos, passing them back and forth and sharing stories, tears and laughter, ultimately making the decision to keep, pass along, donate or discard every single item. On a small built-in shelf, I have kept my son’s ashes, his glasses and a favorite baseball cap he wore, along with several photos of him in Alaska. As I was preparing to pack those items to take with us, I opened the small wooden rosewood box I selected some years ago to hold a small amount of Aaron’s ashes. With the tip of my index finger, I gently prodded and stirred the contents also prodding and stirring my own emotions.
What was at times, the chaos of this process is now finally diminishing and a clean, fresh order to things is beginning to emerge, as if it was the early stage of a sculpture. It is now clear that we have hung on to too much for too long. Simplifying our lives to the most basic elements has been…and is a great feeling!! And while I fully recognize that my next statement sounds like some sort of cliché from an earlier time, the fact is that one’s health and one’s relationships are really the only important things in life…at least in my life. Everything else can come and go, be bought or sold, traded, lost, stolen, or surrendered.
So it is with great trust in our abilities to handle this all, and with the help of very good friends and partners in Ecuador and a bit of courage that I will take the tiny, soft hand of the absolute love of my life and plant the both of us in Manabi Province, Ecuador where our next adventures await!! Gotta’ go now. I have to take about 6-7 large contractor bags filled with crap, to the dumpster on the corner! More crap bags to follow!! Oh…and there is also a nice large pile of things to donate. The crap…is truly crap!