Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Learning Zen-Like Packability

This will be my 11th move in 12 years—three times in Abilene, twice in Portland, twice in Colorado Springs, Lubbock for a few months, twice in South Africa and now back to Lubbock. (This does not include any moves of less than six months.)

When you move 11 times in 12 years you get to be pretty good at packing. You know how to arrange items just so in a box or the trunk of a car or a suitcase to achieve Zen-like packability. You know how to perfectly balance luggage to meet maximum weight restrictions and yet be manageable for one person through customs and international terminals. You are a packing guru.

But in 11 moves, I have become much more than an excellent packer. I have seen and done things that I never would have imagined. In 11 moves I have…
  • lived in five different cities and one village.
  • lived with four different roommates/flatmates and one host family.
  • hosted upwards of 25 houseguests.
  • earned a degree in Abilene, learned to appreciate good coffee in Portland, refined my book taste in Colorado Springs and learned to cook pap in South Africa.
  • hiked large portions of the Pacific Crest Trail, climbed Pikes Peak, ran the Bolder Boulder and the Long Tom 1/2 marathon and hiked the Shipwreck Coast.
  • been a member of the body at seven churches.
  • added Jim & Patty’s Coffee (Portland), Jack Quinn’s (Colorado Springs), Not by Bread Alone (Johannesburg) and Doppio Zero (Johannesburg) to my all time favorite eateries list.
  • learned one new language (Setwswana) and pretty much forgotten how to speak another (Spanish).
  • made countless friends and acquaintances and learned more about the importance of community than I could ever have imagined.
  • been a program developer and manager, a bookseller and community relations manager, a temp and a substitute, a Peace Corps volunteer and a development manager.
  • met Donald Miller, Steven Curtis Chapman, Ted Dekker and Sara Groves.
  • played with lion cubs, skydived and been nearly trampled by an elephant.
  • been invited into the homes of some of the poorest of the poor and sat at the table with some of the richest of the rich.
  • gotten two tattoos on two different continents each reminders of what God has done and of who He has created me to be.
  • seen old dreams fade away and new dreams born.
  • learned to love a precious little girl as my own and committed myself to giving everything to make her my own.
All of these things and more have become a part of me and have shaped who I am in significant ways. Each experience has been carefully packaged inside of me, perfectly measured and situated. They all make up who I am. And while over the years, I have become an excellent packer of stuff, I think what is more important is the “stuff” that is packed away inside of my mind and my heart. Its every person I’ve met who has influenced me in one way or another. Its every fact I’ve learned, every heartbreak and every triumph  I’ve experienced, every opinion I’ve formed, every tenant I’ve believed. All of these things packed away, neatly inside of me to form the me that I am.

Moving so often has been exhilarating but also exhausting. It takes patience and time to build up new community and settle into a place, and it takes effort and persistence to maintain community left behind. But looking back, every move has been worth it. Every move has shaped and formed me into something new. Something better than I was. And I’m grateful.

I hope that this move to Lubbock will be the last move for a while. I’ve always said that if I ever stay in a place for three years I will get a dog. I think Hannah and I would really enjoy a puppy we can raise together, a puppy that can be part of our home and maybe for me symbolize a bit of stability. But puppy or no, I am confidant Lubbock will be good for us and I’m looking forward to what God has for us there.

So I’m pulling out the suitcases again and filling them up with clothes and shoes, books and mementoes. Time for one more flight and one more move.

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