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Moving

I have made several life-changing moves in my life, and with another such transition on the horizon, my thoughts turn to the difficult process of leaving one home and starting another. 

Why is it scary to move? Sure, some of it might be the hassle of packing, but I think it is mainly because we fear the unknown and are reluctant to start anew after building up routines. We like being in a familiar environment, coming back after work to sit on our same old sofa, ordering the usual at corner café. But change can be, and often is, for the better. 

My most drastic move was from Russia to the United States. Packing up my life into two suitcases and leaving a country that had always been my home was difficult. Well, “difficult” does not begin to describe what it’s like to be uprooted from everything you held dear and moved to a place where you know no one, do not speak the language, and are faced daily with a slew of cultural differences. However, immigrating to the United States was also one of the best things that has ever happened to me, not only because of the opportunities the move has offered me, but also because of the lessons I learned along the way. Today, I am looking at these lessons once again. 

Moving really helps separate what matters and what does not for the simple reason that everything can be divided into “worth taking” or “not worth taking” and into “can be taken” or “cannot be taken.” Unfortunately, the “worth taking” and the “can be taken” do not always overlap. Let me give a few examples of what I mean.

What will I miss the most about Chicago? I will miss the beautiful University of Chicago campus with its green ivy and friendly squirrels. I will miss having lunch with my coworkers and running into classmates in unexpected places. I will miss trying to squeeze twenty people into a tiny one bedroom apartment for another gathering of friends. I will miss many people, places, and events – and I can’t take any of them with me. The fact that I have a move in the near future makes me cherish even more everything that I love about Chicago, and makes the last few weeks here bitter sweet. Moving reminds me of all the wonderful people I am fortunate to have in my life, and reassures me that distance will not keep me from being close to them.

At the same time, I begin to realize just how much stuff I have. Looking around the apartment, I feel very grateful for having everything I need. Yet, I also realize how much I have that I do not need: why do I even have thirty coffee mugs? I will soon have to go through my things and decide which I will take with me and which I will leave behind…and how many people would benefit from having these items. I feel that moving is a great time to remember what a huge difference a donation can make in someone’s life. 

Last but not least, I realize that if the move seems daunting because I am afraid of what the change will bring, it is only because I have enjoyed my time here in Chicago so much that I don’t know how life in a new city will compare. There is no need to fear change for its own sake: after all, I was just as worried about moving to Chicago! I have many opportunities ahead and only time will tell where this path will lead, but I will face the future with optimism. 

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