Moving on: usefulness, beauty and a lot of cardboard boxes


"Have nothing in your home which you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

~ William Morris

We're moving.

They say that moving is one of those highly stressful life events that ranks up there with divorce or death of a family member.

I love moving.

I know. It's weird.

We moved a lot when I was a kid, and I've continued that into my adulthood. I love any reason to get introspective and over-think things, and moving offers a plethora of opportunities for life evaluation.

When I was growing up and working on movies, l spent the majority of my time traveling on location and living out of a suitcase for three months at a time. I lived in Holiday Inns and corporate housing. I lived in other people's houses and unfurnished apartments where Mom and I used banker's boxes as tables. Life was very transient, and "stuff" never had much importance to me.

So, I love to purge and get rid of anything that is weighing me down. I give it all away. It lightens my load, simplifies my life and gives back to someone in need. Win/win/win.

Moving offers me a moment to really assess the things in my life. When it comes down to this reality - do I really want to carry this thing down two flights of stairs in this old house and then up two flights of stairs in my new house - it shines a whole new light. Does this thing really have meaning to me? Or do I have it just because I have it?

What else in my life have I been carrying for too long? What else is worth putting down and getting rid of? What pain, what shame, what anxiety? Because even four flights of stairs is nothing compared with holding on to something for forty years that is neither useful nor beautiful.

And maybe that emotional baggage was never even really mine to begin with. Maybe it's like that box of CDs that an ex-boyfriend left behind, or that wobbly coffee table that I inherited from my parents.

I feel like a snake shedding its skin. I get to make decisions about priorities and how I want my family to live. I get to paint my dining room orange. I get to start over and throw out all my assumptions about how things should be. Throwing my life into chaos reminds me that each day, I get to decide how to live. It doesn't have to be based on momentum and habit. I'm allowed to change and grow and leave that old, useless shit behind, like a pile of broken-down Ikea dressers from my 20s.

So, even though we are staying right here in Virginia, it feels like a whole new start - where only things useful or beautiful are allowed to stay.

Luckily, our dog is both.

Gracie stays.

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