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In the first weeks of this year, my family and I ticked off one of our biggest life goals. We packed up everything and moved over 1,000 miles north to Queensland (for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, this is akin to moving somewhere southern and sunny). This had been one of our dreams for many years. Finally, we made it happen.
I learned a lot in making such a big move, and the lessons all pointed to one truth: life ebbs and it flows. In this short piece, I’m going to share a little of what I’ve learned through our move and since. I trust it will give you some food for thought and help you better navigate through the tides of your own life.
1. There Is No Right Time
Our move north to chase the sun and the surf and everything that comes with it actually happened a year later than we’d originally planned. We got stuck thinking that it wasn’t “the right time.” So instead of moving in 2015, we moved in 2016. Everything fell into place nicely, and we cannot complain. However, in retrospect there was nothing stopping us from moving earlier – other than us thinking the time wasn’t right.
The Lesson: Many opportunities are missed waiting for the right time. Now that we’ve moved and still face our share of issues, I know there is no “right time.”
2. Environment Isn’t Everything
I really thought that moving from the suburbs of Melbourne to the beaches of the Sunshine Coast would make a difference to, well, everything. It’s true a lot of things changed for the better almost immediately. We had time at the beach, sunshine, new friends, and new places to explore – yet all the stuff that happens in life still happened.
Environment is certainly a key factor in how content we feel, but it is not as big a factor as I imagined. Like every family, we still have our ups and downs. We have fun, yet we still disagree. We play, yet we still have to do the mundane stuff, too.
The Lesson: Life goes on no matter where you are. Environment is important, but it isn’t everything.
3. Murphy’s Law
Murphy’s Law is commonly stated as: anything that can go wrong will go wrong. While that is actually a misrepresentation of the law, it does point to something important – we all should be prepared to face less than positive outcomes. The way I see it, Murphy was trying to prepare us all for the worst.
My family faced quite a few challenges in our move. Nothing out of the ordinary, but it all pointed to the fact that life keeps on moving forward and if you don’t keep up you get left behind. Sometimes you can’t prepare yourself for what is around the corner. Like learning your uncle has developed an aggressive form of leukemia and has less than two weeks to live. What can you do? You jump on a plane and do what has to be done. But you can expect life to ebb for a while. That stuff is heavy.
The Lesson: When life ebbs, you just have to remind yourself that it flows, too.
4. Know Thyself
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi was inscribed with the maxim “Know Thyself.” Possibly the most powerful lesson I have learned through this move is that self-knowledge is the most important knowledge of all.
For the first few weeks after our move, everything was amazing. I swam everyday. I did yoga every morning. We discovered new places. It was like a vacation. Slowly, life started to creep back in. All those concerns that are present with family life came to the fore. And soon I found myself in a similar frame of mind to that I had in Melbourne. Soon the “vacation” changed back to our normal life. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with any of that. But I did have a significant realization: self-knowledge is paramount.
The Lesson: Through understanding how we respond to stimuli we can better ride the ups and downs. Without self-knowledge you are left wondering, “Why does this keep happening to me?”
Life throws curve balls in some kind of random way we can never truly comprehend. Seems to me the old adage, “Shit happens!” is right on the money.
We all know life is going to go up and down and round and round. The trouble is we want something other than what we have. I achieved a big life goal making this move. And while it’s great that we’re living where we’ve always wanted to live, I know we will still have our challenges. We will still have to deal with the uncertainties of life.
The Lesson: In accepting that some things are in our control and some things are not, we free ourselves to live life the way it should be lived.
6. This Too…
One of my close friends has a small tattoo on her left foot. It simple says, “this too…” I once asked her about it, and she told me it was there as a constant reminder. “A reminder of what?” I asked. She said it reminded her that whatever was happening in her life – good or bad – would soon pass.
The Lesson: Life’s like that. It’s ambivalent. It doesn’t care about us as individuals. It’s not that it’s actively hostile. It just is what it is. Our task is to learn how to adapt and to accept what faces us in life.
The Life Lessons? No Action
It is my hope that while I haven’t outlined any steps to take in this piece, I’ve given you some food for thought. I truly believe that understanding this great matter that is “life” has to be approached in our own time when we are ready to do so.