I am Now Zen Route

I am trying to be all zen about moving.  I am failing miserably.

You would think I would have learned to be zen after 14 years of yoga.  You would be wrong.  I can hardly stay zen (whatever zen is; it’s a word I like but whose essence has eluded me ever since I first heard it) when I am in yoga classes.  I think this is because I have racing-mind syndrome, a state of mind I read about years ago and immediately glommed onto.  Hearing about racing-mind syndrome was like looking in the mirror.  I cringed, but recognized the likeness.  Just as I do with most non-metaphorical mirrors.

But, anyway, moving.  Moving is difficult when you’re like me and you hate change.  Bad change, good change, who cares?  “The two of you,” our friend John announced to my husband and me at dinner recently, “are great.  You embrace change.”

I almost looked over my shoulder to see whether he was talking to someone else.  My husband, Mister Cool, Mister Relax-Babes-It’s-Under-Control, embraces change.  But me?  Ha.

We’re moving because it’s smart to move, we sold our house to a lovely young family, we’re better off living on one level, we need to downsize.  Also because, if we move downtown, someone might possibly think we’re cool.  Smart move!  I know this because I’ve screamed it to myself over and over.  But then, since I have racing-mind syndrome, I get easily distracted by non-smart things like wondering, for example, when my house dreams will begin again.  I always get house dreams when we move.  I always see myself trying to stay in a house that doesn’t belong to me any more, so I know I have to hide.  Or trying to get back into my old house, but I don’t have the key.  I know what these dreams are saying: they’re saying people who hate change should never move.

We pack, we throw away, we clear out things.  My husband goes into a Craigslist fugue state.  He thinks we’re going to sell all the furniture we don’t want for large sums of money.  He takes highly flattering photos of worn and broken pieces of furniture.  “Somebody wants the pool table!” he announces.  “Somebody wants our old dining room table!”  He talks about selling our “new” dining table — the one that slants like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the one on which you can pass the salt merely by rolling it downhill — for a small fortune.  My husband’s the eternal optimist; it’s irksome how often he’s right.  Me, the person who hates change, I can only think about how the word “Craigslist” is often followed by -murderer.

One week to closing and moving.  Our furniture’s disappearing piece by piece.  I am too busy to go to yoga, where I would probably fail to achieve a zenlike state, anyway.  I make to-do lists, I fret, I wonder whose bright idea any of this is and my husband hints it was my idea.  After all, I am the person who embraces change — maybe in a preemptive move — before change can embrace me.

Tell me, will you, the difference between being embraced and being strangled?  I think I’m going to be dreaming about it tonight.

(Copyright 2011 by Ruth Pennebaker)

Read one of my favorite posts about how crisis is my middle name

13 comments… add one
  • Great news you sold your house! Oh, I meant to say: Ommmmmm. You will always be cool in my book.

  • No advice, only sympathy. Moving SUCKS!

  • Claire Link

    Thanks, Ruth! Although this is about moving you put down in words some of what I’ve been feeling about my impending unemployment. you’ve helped me put some things into perspective, know I’m not alone in feeling strangled by change, and allowed me to laugh at myself. (By the way, you look fabulous in your picture!)

  • Thank you! I’m comforted by the fact that I’m not the only one who has those dreams. And yes, I am usually caught trying to hide in the old house when the new owners come back from their errands. My husband never has these house dreams — just me. Now I’m not alone. Love your writing and this blog. Best of luck with the move.

  • Your move sounds so sensible. I’m sure you’ll appreciate the decision more once the physical change has been accomplished. PS. Love your new photo!

  • I also get the house dreams. Not the bad type as you describe. Mine are more that we are going to live there again. Like we are going back to a former life. Now what does that mean in dream analysis?
    Good luck with moving. I also hate it. It’s not just the change, it’s the chaos.

  • Being embraced and being strangled–hum, I think you’re on to something there. I hope all goes well with your move.

    Hey, is that a new photo? I like it. Your design got some tweaks too. I’d say I like the changes, but maybe I should just leave it at, cool.

  • Isn’t moving supposed to be next to death and divorce as a cause for depression? At least you are staying in the same town. When I moved from Atlanta, a place I had lived in for 15 years but really always disliked, to the west coast that I loved I was depressed for 6 months. I am full of sympathy.

    The new picture is really, really cool. It is YOU.

  • Zen is the opposite of out.
    Ex: Move the dining tables zen, move the dining tables out.

    *** Anne Gibert
    That’s not really a photo of Ruth. It’s a photoshopped portrait of Barbara Stanwyck.

  • Thanks for this (to me) funny post. Since the end of my second marriage 13 years ago, I’ve moved often. Looking back I think those frequent moves must have involved a need to escape the past and find some new ground. Now sailing toward 70 on mostly peaceful waters, I think about all that moving and letting go as a bit of practice for the final move out of the body. Meanwhile, I do what the zen I can to enjoy it all. I hope that this move is a wonderful one for both of you, opening great new vistas.

  • Oh, you poor thing. Never mind Zen. I recommend attacks of the vapours. Faint. Maybe someone else will have dealt with it all when you wake up.

    I don’t like change either. I am a big fan of better the devil you know. But I think you are very brave, and I think you will have fun downtown.

  • Good luck with the move. Downtown does sound exciting. Changes…not easy, but oh…can’t wait to hear what’s on the other side of this new adventure.

  • You have my empathy: 7 moves in 7 years over here — back and forth across the Pacific among them. It’s always a challenge to uproot yourself. But I’ve learned a few valuable lessons along the way: I can make home anywhere. And all that “stuff” we schlep from one place to another: A lot of it is baggage we’d do well to free ourselves of.

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