So this post is a little late, but it’s ok, there’s a good reason for my tardiness – I’m in the late stages of a slow and even descent into madness. That counts as a reasonable excuse, right?!
This month so far has been a whirlwind (Understatement. Huge one. Raging typhoon is more accurate) of learning, planning and packing. I am now officially unemployed, and Pete is currently finishing up his final job. We are exactly 11 days away from elective homelessness. 11 DAYS! HOMELESSNESS! I think a little descending is perfectly acceptable given the circumstances, and the madness is simply a prerequisite of the task at hand – so I’m not worried. Do I feel the immense pressure of the situation? Yes. Am I over-analysing anything that can be analysed? Definitely. Am I worried that we’re doing the wrong thing here? Nope, not at all. As I said – madness. Despite spending my nights poring over routes and plans into the wee hours and the days juggling this with the children – plus the constant whirring of my brain while I mentally run through any and every terrifying scenario that my frazzled mind can conjure, and the endless sorting and packing and selling/donating/recycling of our entire house – the overriding emotion is anticipation. I may be scared silly of the trials to come, and I might be so exhausted it takes an enormous effort to form coherent sentences, but above all I’m excited to see what our future holds. I know that any upheaval we’ll face will make us stronger and better – as individuals and as a unit – and that we’ll have an awesome time; we always do when we attempt anything together. Whether we make it for a few weeks or a few years we’ll all be glad to get out there and experience something new, learning the skills we need to achieve our goals from people who are living them, and spending our time together.
The children are possibly even more excited than I am and so incredibly motivated to learn; Maddy can’t wait to get stuck in on a permaculture project and Brendan’s excited to learn about eco building. At home they’ve increased their research and discussion on their related areas of interest and have completed the ‘to see’ and ‘to experience’ lists; and we’ve even managed to take breaks for parties and a little outdoor fun. Oh and Easter, we fitted Easter in too!
They’ve also completely overcome any attachment they may have been harboring for their belongings and have been piling toys, clothes and books into ‘donate’ and ‘recycle’ boxes with gay abandon – it’s brilliant! This week we have sent a whole Transit van’s worth of household items and toys to our local recycling center, and my goodness do we all feel lighter for it.
The children were a little sad to see some beloved (but very tatty!) cuddly toys taken away but, as usual, managed to see the bright side. While I was reveling in the thought of a clutter-free existence Brendan was thinking much deeper, declaring that all of these discarded items were now going to have the honor of upward reincarnation and that we had helped them on their way to bigger and better things. His beautiful perspectives on these simple acts never fails to amaze me, and I love that both he and Maddy have the unerring ability to find the good in any situation.
It really is amazing how much your perspective can shift in such a short space of time. It wasn’t so long ago that my shelves were filled with designer bags and my shoe collection was something to be admired – or so I thought. I had wardrobes and drawers full of clothes but not a thing to wear, a plethora of fancy gadgets but no idea how to use them, and so much stuff that I had a ‘rotation’ for shelf and display items. I didn’t realise just how restricting all of these things and, more importantly, my attachments to them were. They took on lives of their own – needing love and care to maintain them – and became a hindrance. It all took up time, energy and money that could have been better spent; and only served to distract me from more important things. Because none of it was important, just things; clutter. When you remove the chaos of clutter you can breathe a little easier, think a little clearer and hear yourself a little better. The same applies to the myriad play-things that the children had – so much that they couldn’t see the wood for the trees, spent an insane amount of time keeping the hoards of toys in some semblance of orderly tidiness, and rarely actually engaged with any of it. Most of the ‘in’ things that we often struggled to afford and almost always had to fight off other rabid parents to get to have remained packed away in boxes since moving house 2 years ago, and those boxes have now been stacked for donating without a second thought to their contents – because it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is in those toy boxes hasn’t mattered over the course of the past 24 months, so it’s unlikely to matter in the next 24. This was a great eye-opener for the children who were able to figure out pretty quickly that if those toys don’t matter now – and they must have before because we brought them with us – then perhaps their whole system of value-placement was flawed. It prompted a bit of soul-searching from both of them and a whole lot of reevaluation; culminating in a strong sense of true value and clearly defined priorities. Brendan, eco-warrior that he is, is so proud to be doing his bit to cut pollution, consumption and waste; and Maddy is overjoyed to be sharing her wealth with those less fortunate. They both feel like they have more despite having less, and really enjoy the things they’ve deemed important enough to keep.
However, even with all of these positives, this is undoubtedly one of the most chaotic and stressful times we’ve faced yet. We have all of the usual stresses and strains of a house move, without the security of a new house and with the addition of facing the absolute unknown. We’re not packing our things to unload into a new house, we’re saying a final goodbye to the set and props of many happy memories. We’re trying to reduce everything we need to a small enough quantity to carry in our trailers (which will incidentally also be carrying our new homes) and let go of everything else. And I do mean everything. The most difficult thing to let go of has been that nice sturdy life-raft of ‘normalcy’. I’ve been happily paddling alongside mine for a while now – not quite brave enough to let go completely but no longer scared enough to stay inside – but this huge change looming already has me trying to scramble back in. It’s just a natural reflex to the unknown, and I’m working on knowing this and owning that sensation, but for now it’s just another self-made obstacle to achieving our goals. The thing with obstacles is, it’s in their very nature to be overcome or bypassed – obstacles are learning opportunities disguised as hurdles in a path, not a dead-end – so again I’m not worried. And this is the thing that has struck me most throughout our preparations – the perception of obstacles. Most people have been incredibly positive and supportive of our plans, and many have even expressed regret that they didn’t do something similar when they were younger, but even these people often wonder at how we’re actually managing to get past all the obstacles meant to keep us in neat little boxes. When I talk about whatever hurdle we’re facing at the time the most common response is something along the lines of ‘oh well, it was a nice idea but I guess you’re staying put’. To me, that kind of thinking is the real madness.