I’m moving into a new apartment soon. It’s not so far from where I live now, but in a neighborhood with more amenities, and it’s slightly better connected via public transport, too. It’s up A LOT of stairs, but that should be good for my growing waistline. All in all, I guess it’s not so bad, and for anyone who has moved as much as I have, it’s really no problem at all. Still the act of actually packing all of one’s stuff, transporting it, unpacking it, etc., well, it’s just all so banal! Yet, I do like to keep busy, to have the next thing already lined up, and I’m a big fan of change. Sometimes, even small changes can be the catalysts we need to jump-start a new phase or period of life, and without putting too much emphasis on this move and its ramifications for my life-path, I’m slightly hopeful that this newness will break up the stale and sedentary aspects of everyday life that I sometimes can’t see my way out of. Change is good, at least it always has been for me.
“Things which do not grow and change are dead things.”
– Louise Erdrich
Turns out, besides being a brilliant writer and national treasure, Louise Erdrich is a sage! There’s nothing about that which I can find objectionable. What I like about her books is not only do they largely focus on the Native American experience, but they always feature some kind of drastic metamorphosis. Now, I’m not talking about Gregor Samsa level mutation or anything, but changes that nonetheless alter the worlds of those whom she writes about. Indeed, the interplay between nature, human subjects, non-human animal subjects, and the world of the unseen, is so tangible in her books, that the transition from one of those states to the next is nearly effortless for the reader to accept. Change is Erdrich’s way to not only push the story along, but to push the reader along with it. She knows that life is a constant state of flux and that this unsettledness, the constant state, can alter the outcome of a life and be used as motivation.
Like I said, I’m not expecting that this new apartment will upturn my whole life, offer a radically alternate worldview, or anything of that sort, but I am already experiencing little earthquakes, which foretell the seismic shift to come. Just going through all of my belongings and deciding which to transport and which to chuck away has become an almost meditative practice…albeit a difficult one. It presents multifaceted challenges particularly in the case of books; Which to keep? Which to give away? Will anyone even be interested in reading that anyway? Just keep it… You’re the only one who will appreciate it… No! Just get rid of it! You can’t just get rid of it…it’s a book! I keep reminding myself that to grow and change also entails letting things go, even beloved things like books, that if I’m perfectly honest with myself, I know I likely won’t ever read again. Of course there are diehard favorites that I could never imagine life without, and they will be accompanying me to whichever corner of the world I roam. Some things really never do change…well, almost.
“Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful!”
– Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein
Throughout my life, moving has been a pretty constant theme. We moved around a lot when I was a kid, and yet we didn’t. Since leaving home, many of my life experiences have been direct results of moving to a new city, meeting new people (many of whom remain great friends to this day), and exploring a new place with people in the same or similar situation. Being an expat, one can’t afford to be afraid of new places. For those who have moved to a new country, learned a new language, and made a new life in another place, there is little time for fear. We all know that if one overthinks these kinds of things, they tend to be paralyzing, so I say it is best to have no fear, to push any anxieties to the side, and to brace oneself for the shifting of plates. I’ve always been apprehensive about visiting Japan, Indonesia, even the West Coast of the USA, due to an unfounded trepidation surrounding earthquakes, never understanding how the people there can manage to get a single night’s sleep. Now, I realize that just like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, they are uniquely created beings, foundried inhabitants of places on the globe that are bound to change, shift, and shake. They are unafraid and therefore powerful. And when their world is turned on its head, they rebuild and get on with life.
That’s just what I’m going to do. In a new apartment. With fewer books. Wish me luck.