Thursday, October 6, 2011

The gift of nothing

It seems to me that there are many people who remain in relationships or situations because they are hesitant to lose the security of what is known. Change is scary. Period. When I look around my home, I know I am incredibly fortunate that I didn't have to pack myself up and leave the place where I have lived longest ever. But, I think I could have.

If it had been necessary, I'm confident I would have been able to leave the house behind as I stepped towards the future. I know this because I spent my childhood packing and unpacking, as we moved from house to house sometimes improving our standard of living, sometimes not. The frequent moves (I recall 10 addresses by the time I was 12) left me with a firm belief that the stuff in the boxes was where the comforts of home came from, but the stuff that made me at home with myself came from some other internal space.

I spent some time recently with a very dear friend, someone I have known for more than 30 years. We were talking about finding happiness and contentment in a world often placated by stability and complacency. She spoke of her hesitation to change her circumstances because she was uncertain if she could sacrifice her home and the comforts she has grown accustomed to for an unknown future. Despite the possibility of gaining a deeper sense of personal joy and emotional fulfillment, the appeal of creature comforts and social acceptance was proving too formidable a leash to easily escape. Our conversation caused a genuine "aha" moment for me...

Growing up as I did, moving from town to town and school to school and house to house, taught me a lot. I know I can make a home wherever I am - for myself and my children. I am able to achieve a degree of comfort that is independent of what possessions I am surrounded by. Being raised with limited resources has made me capable of living with little. The gift of nothing may in fact have been the greatest thing my mother ever gave me.

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