In March 2016, we sold our home in Bexley, Ohio. In May, we packed up our belongings and moved out. Through the incredible generosity of a good friend, Sylvia Weed, we’ve been able to stay at her lovely home while she spends the summer at her cabin in Pennsylvania. This has been a huge gift.
Both moving out of our house, and now preparing to get on an airplane for Spain, (in just three short weeks!), has required a couple of thoughtful packing exercises.
- Packing Exercise #1: We rented an 8-foot by 8-foot storage bin. Our plan: keep only those things we absolutely wanted to keep. But even then, Julie and I decided that if it didn’t fit in the storage bin, we’d either give it away or sell it.
- Packing Exercise #2: We have two large suitcases that will accompany us to Spain. Everything we want to take with us for our year abroad has to fit in them. The same principle applies, if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t go.
So, what have we learned from these two exercises?
Lesson #1: Julie and I realize that we have been really blessed. These packing exercises have required us to physically handle our possessions—they couldn’t hide “out of sight, out of mind” in a drawer or on a shelf. That act of physically holding the things we have come to acquire and lifting and carrying them to their next destination has made us very grateful for those things and the life we’ve had that has enabled us to possess them for a season in our life.
Lesson #2(a): It feels really good to give things away. Giving away something to someone who will use it and appreciate it as much or more that we did has been a real joy.
Lesson#2(b): It feels really good to give it away. Wow, it’s freeing to get rid of stuff. Yes, we will probably need a couch when we get back to the States from our year abroad, but rather than storing a couch for a year, (and mentally knowing that we have a couch in storage), we’ll figure out if we need a couch when we get back. That frees up a lot of mental space.
Lesson #3: Stuff is stuff. Julie and I have come to learn that it’s not the stuff, but it’s the relationships and experiences we have which we will ultimately retain. Yes, that end table belonged to great uncle Frank, but at the end of the day, it was great uncle Frank that mattered, not his end table.
Richard Rohr said, “We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.” This activity of simplifying and reducing what we have is as much a part of our journey in Spain as the actual living there.