So many of us are held hostage -- by our employers when we request time off, by our insurance companies when we need a procedure they question, even by our service providers when we attempt to make a change before our contract is up. Sometimes it feels almost as if we are dragging the chains of past transgressions like those weighing down the Morley brothers in Dicken’s A Christmas Story.
Recently Lee and I shed some of these chains. We have no jobs, no landlords, no mortgage, no service contracts, and soon no debt. We do have insurance -- which sometimes seems even more inescapable than death and taxes -- but by and large, we’ve become both light on the planet and much less rooted.
As many of you know, over two weeks ago we completed a six-week marathon of divesting ourselves of possessions -- furniture, clothing, a truckload of surplus electronics, another truckload of kitchen paraphernalia as well as garden tools, wheelbarrow, bench, barbecue, fire pit, two cars and a truck. First our three children came through and carted away treasures, then we had an “estate sale” during a weekend deluge, followed by a large donation to a local non-profit -- and finally the junk men came and hauled away what remained. We were continually amazed at all the things we had housed -- in some cases for decades -- and yet felt no distress shedding. Why do we keep things we never look at and don’t miss -- often paying storage fees greatly exceeding the value of replacement?
The most difficult part-- and the most rewarding part of this shedding process for both of us -- was going through family photos and memorabilia. We continually asked ourselves, “Will anyone else EVER want to look at this?” We scanned photos for days, and still have a large box to complete -- at our leisure while we linger in the woods, the desert or the canyons of our new “neighborhoods.” For me, the surprising bonus was integrating all parts of my past with my present, so that I can move unencumbered into my future. Nothing behind, everything ahead.
As I write this, I’m looking out the screen door of our RV at purple and yellow wildflowers at the base of a respectably aged redwood, and I’m listening to an avian concert too diverse to parse into individual calls.
Lee is resting--not having successfully severed all employment shackles quite yet. I find it admirable that he won’t allow existing clients to go down with their foundering databases. I also find it gratifying that he is holding to his decision to rescue through referral from now on.
Friends have asked whether we’ll be bored, whether we’ll be idle or get tired of just gratifying the next moment’s need. I think we wondered too. This is a transitional period so far. We’ve actually been too busy! We’re working on carving out MORE time for gratifying the next moment’s need.
What has become very clear is that our sense of purpose, of adding value to the lives of people we know and people we meet, is alive and well. And now, we can focus with much greater concentration on what really counts, and what we want to stand for.
We want to stand for offering people a chance at greater personal freedom, at shedding their chains -- not their responsibilities but their limitations -- so that they can discover and express what they stand for.
So far, this new life feels very much like an adventure, and what is adventure if not NOTHING BEHIND/EVERYTHING AHEAD.