I haven't said much about this, yet, but we are moving into our dream home in two weeks. Thirteen days, actually. Mark is keeping his job and telecommuting, and I will be starting my new job on June 25. The house is at about 7,000 feet elevation, on 55 acres of land that abuts on the eastern side to BLM land. That land is a stone's throw from Colorado National Monument, pictured below, an imaged I pulled off of Wikipedia. Within the month, I will have photos from our own land to post.
Our new community comprises of 160 people. My commute to Grand Junction is 35 minutes through the Monument, via a gorgeous stone-swept, meandering road to the city of 60,0000, which is 2,000 feet below where we will live. (Do I sound like I'm bragging? Sorry, I don't mean to. I'm just excited.)
Chase is actually more like me in that way. You could get rid of 90% of the stuff in his room, and he'd be fine. He's not like me in that he is motivated to *clean* at all, but when I asked him to thin his books, he did so very easily. When we give him trash bags for his room, he will have a much easier time with parting with stuff than his father will parting with his stuff. I think that's true of most parents, though. That includes me, because the first thing I asked him is what books he wants to preserve. (Because I preserve books.)
Mark is the one in the marriage who keeps stuff....ALL KINDS OF STUFF. One of those stories we'll be telling after we've been married for 50 years is the day he found a 35 year old piece of Valentine's candy and wanted to keep it, because it was cool. You know, those chalk-tasting pink hearts that are printed with small phrases like "Cutie!" and "Love Bug!" that nobody really likes but bank tellers put out for people? Yeah. It's gone now. So is the vat of lentils dated 1989 (in fairness, they still looked intact) that I discovered in the pantry when I moved in (in 2007). But he has been so good about letting things go the past few months. The boxes of beer cans are gone, and he'd been doing small projects. This past week, he's been good about getting rid of stuff in earnest.
It feels SO good. I don't want to bring our garbage and baggage to the new home. I want to bring what makes us happy. I donated probably a third of my books. (That is a HUGE number of books, several bookcases worth.) Out goes the breadmaker that at best, makes meh bread sometimes and sometimes doesn't cook through. Out goes the stuffed honey badger. One of the biggest things is that my father-in-law just closed his office and gave us furniture we weren't planning for. So I'm taking the new nice desk he gave us and replacing my trusty old, cheap, well-loved sewing table. Out goes my first sewing machine.
We have mens' roller blades, a couch I always hated, and a weight bench, two spare sleeping bags, MANY kids' sleds....on and on. Four carloads to ARC so far, without the furniture we're going to call them for.
I believe in magic in the sense of acting in accord of what you do and what you want from your life. Obviously, science is science. But magic is as simple as setting your will, acting in accord, and ....yeah, that's it. It really isn't more complex than that.
Caveat: Here I will check my privilege. I am a white woman, and I came from parents who loved me, worked hard, and made education a high priority for me. I am lucky. Even though I know what it's like to eat rice and nothing but rice because I could not afford anything else, I realize that doors opened for me more easily than they do for other people. Even more so for Mark, who came from a family with more money than mine had. So a person may still need to set their will, act in accord, and have the benefit of things like affirmative action and laws that don't discriminate on whatever basis, and people having a little more help that need it. I am a liberal who leans more Democrat than Liberatarian.
Back to what I was saying.
Feng shui is the Chinese art of defining spaces in such a way as to encourage more "chi" to flow not only in your home, but in other areas of your life as well. I don't follow it strictly and I'm not attached to this quarter of my house must be such-and-such a color or whatever, but the general principles have always been important to me. Cluttered minds always have cluttered houses. And Mark and I have been very, very cluttered for several years. We wanted this home to get away from the grind-ness and the traffic and the people and the STUFF-ness of the front range, once Chase was old enough to not need us to live in suburban Denver anymore. So, to me, what we have been doing is alchemy and magic. It feels stressful to look around my house and see boxes, but holy cow, it feels great after I drop another load at ARC or when the trash guys come on Mondays.
It's subtly difficult. Finding the photo of Steven and Aspen in a beautiful frame in my grandmother's hope chest hurt. But I showed it to Mark and Chase, who'd never seen a photo of them. Mark is digging through old papers, and I know he's touching his old things and remembering too. It's good for us to let some stuff go.
So after working on packing/decluttering/shredding for most of the day, I rented the movie, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. It was done in 2016, and I really enjoyed it. Good things about it were that I think the basic message is a good one, and a lot of Americans in particular need to hear it. There were some great ideas, even and especially if you don't want to take decreased consumption to the extreme that many of the interviewees have taken the message. We're not buying a tiny house. We are buying a 2,500 square foot house and I'm not going to apologize for that. But I want that house to be full of light and air, not dust and clutter. I think it's worth hearing that so many of us have anxiety (guilty) in part because we have to maintain stuff.
The documentary is a bit guilty of being sanctimonious at times, and silly in the sense that the path of two single white, straight guys is the main thread of the documentary. It reminded me of Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild. That's a great book, portraying a young man rejecting materialism to go live life more fully and freely. And if you're not a wide-eyed young adult, you also see that this young man's life was wasted because he died horribly and alone in the Alaskan wilderness, not actually that far from civilization that could have spared his life. Angry young men might be "against society," but society has penicillin, IV fluids, and Wi-Fi.
The Minimalism documentary suffers some of that pure, untempered, idealism. The parts that I liked the best from it were the interviews with couples and families, where the message was more about decreasing, conserving, saving, and compromising. A father talked about how his son easily jettisoned toys he no longer wanted, but his daughter loved to collect dolls, rocks, twigs. He talked about allowing his children to make those choices with reasonable parental guidance, and living an example that his kids he hoped would absorb as an option. I would want nothing more for Chase, than hope that he has absorbed whatever good his father (and mother and stepfather) and I are, so he knows that the good we do are choices he can make for himself.
I want to read more and YouTube less. We are moving to a place that will make pizza delivery impossible. Even the post office doesn't come to our new home. (But yes, UPS and FedEx do.) I want to transplant some of the blackberries that grow so well here in our yard (like...INSANE amount of blackberries) to our land, so we can feed bears. I want to plant catnip to see if the bobcats will come investigate.
It's a new phase of our lives. My surgeries are not done. I know. I've had six in two years, having been almost continually recovering from something, preparing for something. One more next spring. There's something magic about that, too, I'm just not sure what it is or will be yet. My lungs will be fully open and cancer-free and body parts that needed replacing or welding together are fixed. More light and air. Less to weigh us down.
Yeah. My hip is rested now; Chase went back to his mother's for this coming week. Now that we've gotten rid of the Christmas trees (Yay!), I get to go through the ornaments. For now, I intend to keep stuff with memories, and get rid of those ornaments you buy when you're young to fill up the tree....and then by the time you're middle-aged, you no longer need because your tree is full of kid-made ornaments, or hand-me-downs, or the ornament from Maui/Italy/the family picture in Alaska, etc. Destuffing!
If you're too busy to watch a two hour documentary (and you might be), here is the trailer/gist of it: