Taking it with you

When we moved to the Netherlands, we shipped over 40 boxes, at least half of which were filled with books. We sold or gave away our furniture and our many U.S. appliances that would require an adaptor and converter in The Netherlands to function, and we gave away a large majority of our son’s baby clothes, books and toys to a couple that would soon have a baby of their own. Thus, in many respects, we were travelling light.

But then there’s the other baggage that sneaks onto the airplane and into the packing boxes, coming on the journey with you, even though you thought you’d left it behind.

This baggage is composed of emotions and negative beliefs, perhaps with karmic relevance, that no longer serve you; baggage that has proven time and time again to be useless; yet for some reason we still pack it along.

One thing I found in my emotional suitcase was a message that said “you can’t write. You think you’re clever and insightful, but you’re not.” It took me a few years, but I finally sent this suitcase packing. I no longer have use for such a negative belief. Humility remains important, but self-degrading thoughts like that one never proved useful.

A good way to send these negative thoughts packing is to unwind the string that keeps them in place. For example, I can think back to a boss who played yo-yo with his praise and criticisms of my writing. On one given day, he would assess my writing as close to genius, and then a few days later, ask me if I got my Bachelor’s in English out of a Crackerjacks’ box. If I had let common sense, rather than my emotions rule, I would have realized that he, not my writing abilities, was the yo-yo. If I continue to unravel the thread, I discover far more compliments than criticisms. But as master of the scale, I placed far more weight on one person’s words than was merited.

Our shower broke tonight. The whole unit came off the wall, the showerhead breaking off from the snake-like cord. I sent an email to the building manager and received a quick reply–that sort of thing is part of the furnishings, which is the renter’s responsiblity. I was thankful for the quick reply, but not so thankful with the information it brought. This gives a whole new definition to the concept of a furnished vs. unfurnished apartment. I suppose we were lucky the former tenants didn’t take the showerhead and faucets with them!

So although I’ve shed some of that useless emotional baggage, I’m still holding onto American ideas of how things should be done as well–have you EVER rented a place in the U.S. where the shower didn’t come with a, well, a shower? Mystifying idea, isn’t it?

I can always jump to the law of comparison to make this situation trivial. My friend Riette and her husband Tim traveled through Central Asia and at times, didn’t have access to a shower for ten days. I got the impression that the nature of the journey, and the local living conditions helped them cope with this rather unbearable situation for someone accustomed to westernized living conditions. I guess I’ll have to get along with a wash cloth for a few days until we can purchase and install a new shower system. And when we move, a Dutch person will say of our shower, “You can take it with you.”

Shower update: After further correspondence with the building manager and his visit to see the aforementioned shower situation, it was decided a replacement showerhead was merited after all! It was purchased with expediency and my husband installed the new set up this evening. As I showered this evening, I had the sensation of someone returning from a camping trip, realizing the luxury of hot, running water all over again. Thank God for revised opinions and expediency!