This past weekend, I lazily enjoyed a re-watching of You’ve Got Mail. After Kathleen Kelly and her boyfriend break up, her boyfriend loads a taxi cab with all his possessions.

“Wow!” I commented aloud. “We would need a 24-foot truck and two trips.”

Of course, he is a single man. We are a family of six. He lives in New York City. We live in the vast West. He is a fictional character. We are a real family who really lives.

Still, I felt a pang of jealousy at its simplicity. After a dinner, we decide to move, and we do it in a few hours.

Why am I discussing moving? Because Paul and I, for the first time in many years, will be working in the same city 20-some miles away. If it were just the two of us, we would be there already — moving in the course of a few hours like the fictional boyfriend in New York City — probably to something like these Bend Brownstones — no yard work, centralized, no fuss.

But, we are not just the two of us. We live in a beautiful spot with mountain views and irrigated ten acres. We have chickens and ducks and room for more animals. And we have four country-loving daughters who are happily settled in their various activities.

But we need another car if we continue to live here, whereas if we lived in the city in which we worked, we could bike and carpool. Bend is more expensive, but would we save the extra money for rent in gas? And if time is money, we would gain a great deal from not having to drive 30 minutes all the time.

I am not a talented mover. I kept pretty good control of it for the first five moves. As we continued to accumulate things and babies and we got busier, our moves have deteriorated in quality. It eventually took me over a year to hang pictures on the wall. These last two moves, I refused to do it. Someone else who hates white walls more than I do must. I’d rather be cooking good meals or reading a book or anything else than perfecting another move.

There are many good reasons to “simplify” and move to Bend. Yet, there is one glaring obstacle which may override many other factors (aside from I may test my friends’ and family’s goodwill too much if I ask them for help one more time).

Moving causes us to lose a year of our lives.

Is there anyone else who suffers this loss? Let me explain. Every move dominates the entire year. The frustration of settling in. The annoying details of transferring possessions, accounts, mailing addresses, everything. The arranging and rearranging of furniture. The placing of pictures. The unloading of kitchen items and placing them in an efficient way. The process of being the newbie everywhere you go. It takes me a year in a new place — even if it’s in the same town — to feel at home.

Yet, as I write this, I realize I’m complaining unnecessarily. It shouldn’t be that bad. What I’m really complaining about is not wanting to change. I don’t want to face the mounds of possessions we’ve accumulated.

I want to be simple. I don’t want to simplify.

If I simplified our possessions, moving would not feel so daunting. It would remove a major reason in the decision to move and allow me to truly assess the situation. Those of you who have read Oregon Pilgrim for a long time will know this is an old theme.

I wish to be simple but I don’t do much about it.

I have a husband who borders on being a hoarder. I could blame it on him. I have four daughters who love to go, go, go and cause things to be in a constant disarray. I could blame it on them. I could site too much work outside of the home as the cause. But this is not the place for blaming or excuses. If there is one thing I’m discovering this side of 40 is complaints usually have their source in problems with you-know-who … little ol’ me.

I think the real deep-down reason is I don’t know what I want. I lack direction and purpose and single-mindedness.

I’m working on my novel. I declared publicly I would finish it by August (see Pledging) and…I’m working on it. I’m discovering just what a maze it is to get from one point to the other. Have you ever attended a meeting without a clear agenda and feel frustrated with how many directions the meeting takes? I find myself lingering too long in the thoughts of this character and wandering over the scenery. Dialogue drags. Plot falters. Basically, a good key to success in this area is to boil your story’s main idea into one sentence and keep that one sentence in front of you as you write.

Can I do this with my life? Could I boil my personal story’s main idea into one sentence and keep that one sentence in front of me as I live? Perhaps I need to or I’ll have a tendency to wander. The pace will lag. The plot will have holes. The characters won’t live and breathe.

What about you? If you were going to write a story with your life from this day forward, what would the one-liner be to keep you on track? I’m looking for inspiration. In my next post, I’ll publish mine too. Until then …

 

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