Forgive me for taking a week off so early into writing this blog. I had to go to New Orleans to help bury my grandfather. I’m proud to say that he was someone who left this world without regret. If he was anything like my father, there may have been a thing or two he should have regretted and didn’t. But I’ll never know. He was a private man, and he kept his feelings to himself. He never struck me as the kind of person who thought twice about doing what was right. If he believed something should be done, he did it. Still, he had to have reexamined his plans at some point. He must have had doubts about his path. It’s easy to deify people once they’re gone. We forget that they were fallible. By comparison, it’s impossible to measure up. I should remember my grandfather, not as some bastion of bravery and willpower, but as a human being. It’s incredibly important that I remind myself, especially now, while I battle with doubts about changing my own course.
I don’t know when I started to question my decision to sell most of my possessions (especially and including my house) and live in a small home on wheels. I was so excited at first and so eager to begin. Then a series of misfortunes began to occur: the plumbing went south, the dog got sick, the cat got sick, my grandfather’s passing, I lost a job, money got tighter, the roof needed work, I was denied a mortgage refinance, Boyfriend broke a tooth and needed dental work. It’s all we’ve been able to do just to keep up with what’s happening. Forget planning for the future. All of a sudden, staying right where we are sounds so tempting. Working on our current home, staying in our professional communities, growing ourselves here and now; the idea is so enticing.
I find myself asking whether or not I’ve truly given my current life a chance. For example: When I was 13, one of a long line of therapists came into my home. She looked at my bedroom walls, noticed that they were bare, and asked why there weren’t any posters or pictures. You see, during those times when my life was particularly difficult, I survived by envisioning the next step. I’d tell myself there wasn’t any reason to hang a picture, to paint, or to plant flowers, because I’d be moving on soon. I wouldn’t be wherever I was for much longer, and it didn’t make sense to put down roots only to tear them up again. At the beginning of my marriage, I was optimistic enough to purchase a house and paint some of its walls. Since my divorce, I’ve lived in the house without making a single change and only necessary repairs. For 7 years I’ve been living like I was moving out. Now, at 31, there’s still nothing on my bedroom walls.
I’ve tried to sell the house 3 times. I’ve done every legal thing I can think of to get rid of it. The only thing I haven’t done is actually live in it. I inhabit it, just passing through, on my way to somewhere else where I don’t have to be reminded of lost love, broken friendships, harm, hopelessness, or disappointment. I’ve created a nice little purgatory for myself, neither living nor leaving. And it’s this realization that forces me to mistrust, to question whether or not my desire to live minimally comes from a healthy place.
So I ask myself: am I a quitter if I leave? Or am I a quitter if I stay? Is there some middle ground of which I am unaware? Is this kind of change all or nothing? Should I stop wrestling with my life for 5 minutes and see what happens, or should I keep on fighting the good fight? My grandfather would have done what he believed was right. The problem is, in this situation, there isn’t any clear right or wrong. There is only motivation and possible self-delusion. I don’t want to kid myself, and I don’t want to wake up in 30 years and wish to god I weren’t still making a mortgage payment. I fear that, at the end of my life, I’ll look back and realize that I gave up my chance at absolute freedom, because the going got tough. Rather, I want to die like my grandfather: without regret.