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Too soon old, too late smart

For the past several months, Randy and I have been organizing our upcoming move from Pennsylvania to Arizona. At a bon voyage party last week, a wise friend confided, “Every time I move, I learn more about who I am.” That resonated with me like a siren in an echo chamber. You may have noticed that I haven’t published this newsletter for a couple of months. I’ve been busy discovering, sometimes abruptly, who I am. As it turns out, I’m not who I thought I was. And I’m darned glad about it.

The me I’ve known for the nearly 60 years I’ve lived in Pennsylvania loves order and abhors change. Me is a packrat; you never know when that little gizmo might come in handy. Me keeps score in quantities — of reserve paper towels, cans in the pantry, bottles in the wine cellar. Possessions mean a lot to me; they are mine. Me prefers rationality over emotionality. Me likes to upgrade things, like kitchens, lawn tractors, TVs and landscaping.

So, since around May, the me I knew has been coping with sorting through the accumulation of 16 years in the same home, lightening the load well below the mover’s estimate of 17,000 pounds, preparing to move to a smaller, “builder’s grade” home 2,800 miles away, while most of our stuff goes to storage. Then we’ll start searching for our “forever home.” Things won’t be “normal” for many months.

I approached this process with more than a little trepidation and, I don’t mind telling you, with plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth. But, when forced to lighten the physical load, I’ve found myself literally “lightening up,” too. It didn’t take long before I started looking for something else to give to a friend or a charity, sell at a garage sale, or just toss. (Lesson: keep a supply of $10 bills handy on trash days.)

It’s become a game. It’s fun. I’ve plunged into the disorder and chaos, glad that we gave away our dishes so we can exhaust the supply of paper plates I’ve hoarded. I knocked on the door of the house where I grew up from 1952 to 1970, was invited in by the owner and took a top-to-bottom tour down memory lane. When saying goodbye to dear friends, I have to carry tissues. The nearly empty wine cellar means that we’re finally drinking — and sharing — all of the good stuff we’ve saved “for a special occasion.” Finding a new healthcare plan was a challenge to win against “the system.” The mess in the garage means I’m breaking through, moving on, releasing. Laughter comes easier now. A me 2.0 is emerging and I really like the guy.

The Pennsylvania Dutch say that “we get too soon old and too late smart.” I can’t do much about the old. But I’m happy to re-discover that it’s never to late to do something about the smart.

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