Thursday, January 8, 2009

To Move or Not to Move...

No, this is not a post about bowels.

I have found that there are two types of people in this world - those that move and those that don't. No question which category I fit into. I've never lived more than 4 years in any one place in my entire life. But I've lived in places and met people that are of the other type and I have found no correlation to income, education, or level of curiosity, outgoing-ness or adventure that distinguishes the two groups. There are just people who are willing, even excited, to pick up and move, and people who aren't.

I remember a guy I studied in college with who loudly claimed that he would rather be a ditch digger in Utah than an engineer in Texas. (and he wondered why I wouldn't go out with him.) I know people here in Hawaii - in their 40s - who still live in the houses they grew up in. And then there's Ambie, whose children had the same Kindergarten teacher she did. I've heard people say that they choose not to move for the sake of their children. Then their children grow up and move away, and they're still there!

I'm not going to say that one group of people is superior to the other. But I will say that there are experiences and life lessons that come with moving that you cannot gain any other way. For one thing, you cannot come to know a place or a people by just visiting no matter how often or how long. All my life I've visited Hawaii, had family here, stayed for over a month at a time - but when I moved here for the first time, I felt like a foreigner. It's a whole different ballgame. Like the difference between looking at a picture of food and actually eating it.

By moving around a lot, you learn that "home" is not an address or a zipcode, but a person or group of people. I have to chuckle when I hear grown adults say, "I'm going home this summer" or "for Christmas" and I think, I'm sure your spouse will be thrilled. What do they call the place they have their underwear drawer?

Moving takes a brand of courage that dwarfs other actions we label as courageous. We may look at someone who has climbed Denali, bungee jumped, or scuba-dived at night in shark infested waters, and think, "wow, they're brave". But would they be willing to move to a foreign country where they spoke not a word of the language and knew not a soul, with 6 children ages 2 to 14, and be 6 months pregnant, in a harsh, snowy winter? And feel not fear or self-pity, but exhilaration and excitement for new opportunities?

That was my mom.

I know that some people shake their head and pity me or think they've discovered the cause of my "eccentric nature" when they hear about my nomadic life. But to those of us who've moved - a lot, the book "Who Moved My Cheese?" is a no-brainer. We adapt. We adjust. And we find happiness wherever we are.


Heather said...

I abslutley agree that from moving so much, I have learned things that I never would have. For instance, who would have thought I would absolutely fall in love with a place like Omaha Nebraska? I never moved my entire childhood but as an adult I have done nothing but. I hate change so moving is hard for me. I don't think I will ever like where we live now but I never thought I would love Nebraska. I am just grateful for the journeys that we have had and the AMAZING people we have met along the way. (Like you Rachael)

Happy The Man said...

I'm a mover (and a shaker). I'm to the point now though that I really detest lifting heavy stuffs...

Beckie said...

I think you are absolutely right. I have never been in the same house more than 3 years. You adapt, you change , and like Heather said, you meet people you would never have met otherwise and are almost always blessed by the experience. I don't think of it as torture you inflict upon your children but a gift you give them, depending on how you handle it. They can learn to go with the punches, be excited about new communities, and make new friends. It is great.

When we moved from PA people (also ones that had been there FOREVER, you know living in the house they grew up in sort of thing)could not imagine that we would just leave. It was very stressful to them. They would try to talk us out of it and be wringing their hands in concern. IT was very interesting to see.

But, just to avoid painting a picture of a perfectly blissful existence, I must say sometimes I have dreamed of never moving again. That usually is the case for the first few months after moving, especially when we have to move ourselves!

Sorry to write a ton, I think you touched a nerve.

Cheryl said...

Well said, Ray! We have moved quite a bit in the 30 years that we have been married. Our 16+ years in AK was actually pretty great, although we lived in 4 different houses during that time! The hardest move is the one we just made to WA state. I don't know if it is because we are older, or because we were in AK for so long.