When the road gets rough, I am the first to wisely counsel everyone that “this, too, shall pass.” I advise my loved ones to meditate so that they can let go of “future thinking” and stop “borrowing pain from tomorrow.” In an interesting turn of events, however, I’ve found that my emphasis on the impermanence of life has actually started to interfere with my ability to fully embrace the present.
That’s what smug enlightenment will get you.
My family sold 99% of our stuff - including our house - and moved into a travel trailer last year. We toured the country together for 10 months, stopped at my in-laws for 4 months, and just recently moved into our new home in Pittsburgh. We’ve decided constant roaming isn’t the best fit for us (or at least our kids) at this time, and so we’re trying to make a home for ourselves in a new place.
But, I have been struggling to let myself settle into the idea of home. The problem? I can’t forget about how temporary everything is.
For example, I avoid getting furniture that will fit this place because we’re renting and maybe it wouldn’t fit in whatever place we live in next. There are no pictures of loved ones or kids’ art work on the walls, because then we’ll just have to patch the nail holes when we move. I’ve created a sort of flop house for my family instead of a home.
A friend of mine has recently decided that she is leaving her job when her husband retires next year. Having made that decision, she’s now struggling to cope with once-minor annoyances when she’s at work. She calls it Short-Timers Syndrome. Her problem is really not that different than mine, except that her future exit is certain and mine is assumed, but the awareness of an eventual end is distracting us both.
In my case, I think I’m afraid of wasting my time or money creating something. What’s the point, I tell myself, if it can all be dismantled in a weekend garage sale? Why bother putting down roots here if I will just have to go through the painful process of digging them up again some day? For all my talk of things passing, somewhere along the line I’ve picked up a fear and a sadness about the passing of things.
I have only to imagine telling my kids that they shouldn’t bother making friends with the kids in their class now because they probably won’t even know them later in life to realize that this is not the way I want to approach my life.
In her comment on my blog, another friend of mine shared this bit of wisdom on the topic:
“Another really wispy and elusive piece to the puzzle has been mindfulness about our location. Being present, being here, not living in the future and making decisions based on what-ifs, could’ves, should’ves, maybes, next times, and the like. Because it can ever be home if we never allow ourselves to BE there. And just because we allow ourselves to BE here, doesn’t mean we can’t change our minds later.”
For the umpteenth time, I’m searching for balance - this time between acknowledging that this will pass and celebrating where we are at the moment.
Have you ever struggled to settle in, either in a home or a job, because you knew it wasn’t forever?
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