NOVEMBER 8, 2012 9:30AM

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

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Synchronistically, a couple of visitors last weekend asked if they could make off with a few of my things. First was a wooden dinosaur pull-toy on the porch that someone wanted for his nephew. Another visitor asked if I'd read that bio of Alan Watts yet. I said no...but my interest in Alan Watts faded several decades ago – take it away. Then he really liked a green-man mug I'd got in Glastonbury. You like it? - it's yours.

Synchronistically because I'd been thinking I needed to start getting rid of stuff and, that weekend being Samhain, our Pagan celebration of death, I was going to bring up the subject, tell people to look around and if they wanted anything, take it.

Sad to say, now that I have my house almost finished, and almost perfectly filled with neat junk, I'm realizing that feebleness and death are not that far in my future. Having cleaned out a couple of houses after the death of my father and my husband, I really don't want to leave that awful task to someone.

I read once about a family who went with dread to their deceased mother's place to deal with *stuff*, and they started in the kitchen – opened a cupboard and found one plate, one glass, one cup. Sigh. If I'm going to emulate that thoughtful lady, I got a long ways to go... For starters, I have a back-up green-man mug...

I might need to empty the house anyway because I'm beginning to think about becoming too feeble to stay on top of things and should find some other place to live. There are lots and lots of stubborn old people out in even more obscure corners of the county, but I think the sensible thing would be to move. There's a trailer park very close to the hospital (and grocery, etc.) in a nearby town.

But then, if I leave my beloved house and land, why move to a nearby town? I love spring and fall, but summer and winter are miserable. Why not move to one of those areas in B.C. where it's like spring and fall all year round?

The other morning was cloudy with suspended rain, what my late husband called a scotch mist, and only a few degrees above freezing. Forget spring & fall - I really like weather like this. Wearing clothes feels nice and I can work for hours, invigorated. Not needing protection from the sun. So it occurred to me – a crazy thought, I know – that maybe I should move to the land of my ancestors, they whose DNA is responsible for my thinking that scotch mist and gloom and near-freezing temps make for a desirable environment.

At one time, I seem to remember, Scotland was offering a welcome to its stray sons & daughters. Of course, that may have been for former citizens who had emigrated, not for someone whose forebears have been in Canada for quite a few generations. And, whatever things I might like about Scotland, I would be lonely, not knowing anyone and trying to find my way around in a different culture.

I would have to stay far away from Glasgow, where I can't understand them when they speak.

And be somewhere near an Indian restaurant because, well, Scottish cuisine leaves something to be desired. Actually, a LOT to be desired.

I wonder if Findhorn is still going?

Come to think of it, I actually like England better. Cuter buildings, cosier landscape and, boiled peas and spotted dick notwithstanding, better food.  And, I have to admit, better climate.

Sigh. I'll probably just squat here until it's too late and die surrounded by weird junk and hundreds of unread books. Apologies in advance to my offspring – but cleaning out houses is what survivors are for.


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Enjoyed the subject matter and your take on things quite a bit. I'll most likely follow what the wife wants to do in later years; but if I was a widower, I'd definitely do the minimalist thangy.
Myriad, if I had a chance to move somewhere I'd dreamed of moving, I'd do it!
I've been cleaning out my closets this month, finding letters, papers, junk, form over 20 years ago. Purging makes me feel light... ~r
Junk and more junk. Cluttered desks. Empty desks are the sign of an idle mind, but as JH has pointed out cleaning lightens one up. It's a dilemma but on a serious note, feeling older and being able to lighten up is a sign to do it. I've known too many that wished they had done some of it so that later times could feel more free.
Good luck.
Loved this -- I too have been cleaning out old boxes and giving away older things I love but don't use.
If I owned land and loved my home I'd not leave -- ever -- but when my mother died, that she had cleaned out much of her stuff was oh so considerate --the rest I had no idea what to do with, so I put it a POD and paid for it for years until I could ship it out here where we live, now a decade later, it is finally down to her best treasures that we actually want to keep.
Exhausting. Emotionally exhausting (why it took so long).
Why I'm already clearing out my own 'treasures.'
As for moving, I did notice how much harder it is to start over and find new friends when we moved at an older age than it was when we were younger -- but it's also wonderful to live in a groovy new place, I felt more alive when we moved this last time, more wanting to check out new things, new places, new thoughts of how I wanted to be.
I have a feeling you'll make just the right move, regardless of what it is. : )
Elderly friend who collects military memorabilia was once asked by a daughter what would happen to all his stuff when he dies. His reply? "Not going to be my problem."
This is among the most thoughtful posts I have read in quite some time.

hey yeah u did enough.
made an effort, you poor dying gal.
feeble? hardly so. in body not mind.
and i coulda used that damn Watts bio!
my mom was the same as her physical abilities declined.
eleanor said, "we simply must get rid of all your father's junk!"
(yrs of papers and mementos from his job as teacher & principal)
"how , mom?"
"well, we will sneak em out to the trash at night. when he is asleep."
i didnt go along with it. left alot of stuff when they expired.
but it was good and fun and sentimental to go thru it all.
dont you dare throw out pictures!!!!!!
I am in some kind of similar mindset. I am much diverted by the new puppies and they give me a false sense that my life will continue for some time. I am not certain that is true and while I occupy themselves with them, I still think of who should be gifted with some of my stuff.....
Peace of mind once dictated that I give away nearly all I had.
Does anyone really ever "own" any object or space on the globe?
I enjoyed this post very much, Myriad.
A serious and measured piece. Contemplative, but tinged with humor as well. Something we all have to confront, unless we're taken very suddenly, I guess.
I came to California in 1969 with a backpack and a sleeping bag. most of the weight and a quarter of the volume of the backpack was occupied by the Complete Unabridged and Annotated Works of William Shakespeare which I read most of skipping a few lesser known plays. Moving to Novato I've reduced my stuff to less than three cubic yards and as I unpack, I'm looking to reduce that stuff even more. If by the time I'm ready to escape the looming fate of decrepitude, I'm hoping to leave nothing more than a few books and some life insurance for the youngsters. R&R ;-)
back up green man mug?
When you look through your stuff, you see your history and personality reflected in each thing. I dread moving for that reason because I'll have to get rid of things and everything has some meaning. I guess we just have to internalize the meaning, though, and let the things go to make meaning for someone else.
I loved this one, Myr. Your streams of consciousness are so relatable for me. Every choice seems rife with some level of discomfort. I can tell you, though, the best thing I've done for myself in years was to downsize my "stuff." It is liberating.

Hi Joisey. Oddly, in some ways I do the minamalist thing, or so I feel. For starters, I live in my kitchen except for sleeping. And I have everything efficiently organized.

Joan - I shouldda been a Cancer instead of a Leo - I'm very attached to my house. I did look briefly at the internet re moving to Scotland, but, really, moving to B.C., if I were going to do anything, would be more realistic. BTW I have decided that I can get rid of a bunch of cookbooks. If I ever get the urge, the internet has PLENTY recipes...

AKA - I think I need to explain some. It's an aesthetic thing - I guess I'm very *visual*, and I like to look at stuff. THO...I once saw a film (it was that long ago) about Leonard Cohen, who was living in an all-white totally-empty apartment. That was pretty cool.

Just Thinking - My daughters have said, jokingly (I think) that they would deal with things by setting fire to the house. I think I might enjoy moving to an interesting new area...but OTOH I'm pretty introverted and I might miss having my own territory. 20 acres here, outbuildings, art installations (sort of), places to be content on my own. With occasional trips abroad to get a whole lot of outside stimulus and interacting with strangers...

Boanerges1 - Hmm. It's an option.

Jonathan - something we all gotta be thoughtful about eventually...

James - I might have other Watts books. If I were ambitious, I'd do an inventory and post it and send out books to people who are interested. Hmm... Pictures, at least of the photo persuasion, are on computer...but I have many pictures, such that when someone today on FB tried to lure me over to look at some paintings by a local artist that she thought I'd like, I said I have no wall space left.'s too bad we humans are conscious of the fact that we're gonna die... After all the work put into living, it's annoying to have to work towards taking care of the dying.

Sheila - I have to refuse to take on any other animals. A number of my cats are pretty old and the dog and the other cats are middle-aged... But acquiring another cat that might well last for 15 years...should not do that.

Poor Woman - I have divested a couple of times, long ago. But been here and accumulating for 35 years. It represents, no, IS my chosen life after extracting myself from other people's scenes and expectations (and the horrors of paid employment).

Jeanette - at some point I think it must come to mind. When young, old age and death are so far away that it's essentially theoretical. Well, it still is for me, but I'm trying to be responsible about it all.

jmac - my problem is I like LOOKing at things. For instance, my porch is full of colored glass thingees, none of them with any value and some of them just bottles ("Why do you have all these bottles?" people sometime ask.) But I take delight in the way the light comes thru them at different times of day. They're not BOTTLES, they're light. Poor person's stained-glass windows.

tr ig - haha, yup. The green-man mug I gave away was an elaborate decorative item. I have another that is just a pattern on a plain mug and I drink from it. THAT one I'd really miss.

Jackie - For me, a lot of the stuff around here doesn't have meaning, particularly, or sentimental value - it's aesthetic.

Lezlie - "Every choice seems rife with some level of discomfort." Very wise observation. Sigh. Trying to minimize the discomfort. But, as above, I don't think I'd feel liberated if I got rid of things; rather, I'd feel bereft. Nothing to look at...but the 4 walls...and, of course, the computer screen.
My mother just recently visited Scotland. She's seventy five. She loved it especially the people. As far as the the rest of this Myriad you are just being morbid. Get a grip on yourself We are all going to die it comes with being born. Samhain's no big deal anyway. Aside from the seasonal equinox's I only celebrate Walpurgis eve. Samhain's for the tourists.
Nice combo of the serious, the thoughtful and the whimsical Myriad. It's been a while since I've been there but it's saying something if Scottish cuisine still lags behind English. OK though if you can afford salmon most nights.
Jack - Yeah, well me & mine celebrate all 8 sabbats, and Samhain is esp. important, along with (so to speak) Walpurgis Day. I should do like your mother and go visit - it's been 15 years since I've been there. See what I think...

Abrawang - Jeez, for whatever reason (possibly financial) when I was in Scotland I didn't eat any salmon. This time round I indulge.
I thought we were suppose to torch your house after you pass off into the next life!

Dad did that & has moved to some rent controlled senior apartment but, he has bad back, hip, knees & heart & survived leukemia. He likes it, though, & is working out in their gym regularly. I'm with you, though. I don't know that I could give up the yard & the autonomy.
Dad did that & has moved to some rent controlled senior apartment but, he has bad back, hip, knees & heart & survived leukemia. He likes it, though, & is working out in their gym regularly. I'm with you, though. I don't know that I could give up the yard & the autonomy.
It's admirable to try to clean out one's life, so to speak, but I'm like you - I've got a lot of possessions (back-up ones, too!). It's not so easy to change. As for moving to Scotland or England, why not? I know some European countries, like Italy and Spain, do have programs to allow descendants of citizens, to get their citizenship, too (of course, it's very complicated and there are several restrictions, but it's probably worth looking into). On the other hand -aren't winters there pretty harsh? At any rate, whatever you choose, I hope you won't stop writing here - I always enjoy reading you and your musings and the things you make us all discover.