After 12 years in Ashland, one of the western suburbs of Boston, we just moved out of our house, and, really, downsized. From a large condo with three floors, we relocated to a comfortable apartment at the Willows in Westborough, another western suburb of Boston, which has all the three stages for mature people, namely independent living, assisted living and ultimate care. Our apartment has two bedrooms and two baths. My wife and I found the experience challenging on one hand and exhilarating on the other.
According to a Hebrew proverb, when you change your place you change your luck (“meshanneh maqom, meshanneh mazal”). We hope good luck will continue to smile on us- not that I really believe in such things!!!
The process of moving taught me a few lessons in life, and here they are:
1. One can live happily with much less:
In our attempt to downsize, we had to go through our belongings and carefully choose those items that we absolutely must have in our new apartment. We quickly realized that all the “stuff” we had but never used for many years can be discarded with no problem. We had to get rid of my old Kindles, cameras, my mother-in-law’s china and other sundry items. The biggest challenge we faced was with my large library. No one wants encyclopedias, periodicals and other scholarly books now. For many years, I kept all the issues of Biblical Archaeology Review, but when I attempted to donate them, I could not find a single institution willing to accept it. I also realized that at my age (almost 80), I will not be using any Akkadian or Sumerian texts as I did before. So I had to throw them all away, simply because I do not have room for them in our new apartment.
2. Sifting through our belonging forced us to identify what are the most important items in our life:
Not everything has the same value or carry the same weight in our emotional and physical life. Certain things transcend us. As one gets older, the needs change, and certain new needs emerge. So, as we packed, we took only those objects that are meaningful to us now, such as, important family pictures, documents that I plan to transmit to my children, diplomas that attest to my personal achievement during the course of my lifetime. Other things we simply gave them away.
3. Nothing in life comes easy:
````As we planned our move, I fully expected that not everything will work itself out smoothly, but I never imagined that we would have to overcome so many hindrances. Almost every day, we encountered another glitch: for a while we could not find a buyer, until two of them showed up one day; all our smoke detectors had to be changed; a mistake was discovered in our original estate document; the charitable institution that was scheduled to hall away our discarded items cancelled at the last moment; two days before our final stay, our garage door broke down. This experience taught me that we need to deal with the exigencies of life with determination, hope and lots of patience-and I lack the last one.
4. This move tested our marriage:
````As we packed our belongings, discarding some and keeping others, my wife and I, of 50+ years, often engaged in serious discussions. At times, we disagreed over many details, but our love and commitment to one another kept us together, and we managed to overcome our differences, by respecting each other’s needs and wants, and, at times, by yielding to opinions expressed in strong emotional language.
I am looking at this move as a new beginning in our life, fully aware of the Hebrew proverb that “all beginnings are difficult” (kol hathalot qashot). We will meet new people, adjust to new schedules, and forge new patterns. But that is life, a series of changes facing each of us at every corner of our existence. Fortunate are those who can easily adapt to them.
Rifat Sonsino, Rabbi, Ph.D.
End of August,. 2018