In a little less than four days, I’ll be on my way to Nauru to start a new job teaching a community health diploma (both job and diploma have far fancier names in the contract). I’m equal parts excited and nervous about the new job. It means not having a permanent home in Australia this year as I’ll spend 36 weeks on-island – and a move from Armidale to Brisbane as a base in a few weeks time. It means foster-homes for my little cat while I’m away and I’m deeply blessed to have two amazing friends who will take her into their homes (and hearts) during the year. It means big changes and big learnings and big adventure – and who could say no to that? There’s a chance to make a real difference so why not dive in to the opportunity – especially when Laks will be cared for while I’m away.
But leaping in to this opportunity has meant moving and packing.
And more packing because I think I may own all the stuff in the world. Stuff seems to just appear in unexpected places that I didn’t realise existed in the cottage or in places I swore I checked yesterday.
There is just so much stuff.
But – no permanent home this year means I can no longer keep all of it. So I have read Marie Kondo, and I have piled clothes and books and things onto my dining room floor to hold individually and discard if it didn’t make me feel a spark of joy. While deeply cathartic, it also made me realise how much stuff I had that didn’t spark – not that I actively didn’t like them but just that they weren’t so valuable.
And I discovered that I will get rid of almost half my wardrobe but can’t part with any of the artworks I’ve collected over the years.
Books too were far harder to get rid of – and far harder still to not take with me. I’m packing 8 books (somehow) to take with me to Nauru because they’re the ones I read and re-read – they’re the ones that will make me feel brave and safe on the days when I may not feel either.
But, the thing is, as I’ve been packing and discarding – and boxing up my life into 9 not-so-large boxes, 4 bags, 3 suitcases, and 1 small cat – I’ve been realizing more and more how much change can be the Boggart in the wardrobe. Staying at a friend’s place to get Laks settled, I’ve watched this little cat adapt to a new house more quickly than I did – she found her comfy spaces within an hour. Admittedly, I’ve made friends with the other dog and cat but that’s because I don’t think I need to be boss of everyone. What Laks lacks in size, she makes up for with a personality and survival skills.
But within a day or so, she made her new routines and, in truth, so did I. I wake up to feed three animals following the politics of the morning. A kind-hearted dog the size of a horse comes with me on my morning walk that now goes through the Lookout. I water the garden, and feed the fish. I walk up and down an enormous hill (which feels especially enormous coming back up when I resemble a hunch-backed red-faced and huffing wreck of a person) to get to work.
I have a new rhythm to my days.
And I’ll make a new rhythm again in just under four days time.
The fear that change can bring may – at least for me – be a fear of how to fill your days again and what those days will look like. It’s a fear that looms large in the days before a change (like right now, with just under four days to go) but it’s also a fear that will disappear a week or so from now. When I have the rhythm to my teaching and my days.