12 months later and, as Yogi Berra said, it is Déjà vu all over again. I’ve moved cross country. My stuff is delayed (and I stand by my original post on “Stuff”). Constant change and transition is tough and many of us are not cut out for it.
What makes it especially challenging is nothing is obvious and easy. From where to get lunch to where are my black pants, there are few consistent things in a new town with a new job with an empty apartment. The change is the main constant.
So with all the things that change, let me focus on what has stayed them same.
- Me – In the season finale of Mad Men, many of the characters longed to move to California for a new start. That’s so last year. I did that already. No matter where you move, you are still you. Your anxieties and hang-ups, your strengths and hopes. They don’t change with geography. While certain locales and opportunities can bring out your best and worst sides, intimately you don’t become someone new when you start college, a new job, move, start dating someone new. However, you do get a chance to do things with wisdom and history on your side and that can help a lot.
- Friends and Family – Geography brings people closer or moves you physically away from them. But those you love and who love you are part of you wherever you go. I am lucky enough to have moved from near one area of family strength to another. I am glad to have turned to those whose love knows no geography for support right now.
- Your Dog – You may not have a dog. Frankly, most people can put “Spouse and Children” for this one. You are sharing a house with the same people. They too are under stress (The dog doesn’t know why we keep changing homes every few days – but he isn’t that fond of it). But they are a rock for you and in need of your strength.
- That shirt and all those mementos – There is a chance your stuff has improved with the move, but your stuff is still your stuff. You have too much of it. You don’t like some of it. You can’t get rid of a lot it. But at least it is familiar and therefore provides comfort.
- Email and Phone – Keeping my emails and cell phone number have helped immeasurably. While I struggle to remember new addresses, work numbers, and other details, these are constants that have kept me connected and required no maintenance. It means with Called ID, I am showing up as a Newark, NJ phone number everywhere. I feel like that Seinfeld episode where Elaine gets a new number. But for right now it is worth it to have something essential NOT change.
Look at the Israelites. They were an anxious, fearful complaining rabble in the years immediately following the Exodus from Egypt. 38 years later, they hadn’t changed much. And they moved a lot. Just check out Numbers 33 for a long list of every place they stayed. I hope they had better luck with their movers.
We move for new opportunities and to change. Sometimes we pick an opportunity that really helps us transform. Most of the time, it’s just us in an unfamiliar setting. Buckaroo Banzai taught us, “No matter where you go, there you are.” And thankfully amid all the unfamiliar and change, when we move we therefore always find something we know and love there: ourselves.