A few weeks ago I packed up my things and set out to make some changes. I moved. I made my way back to a pretty familiar part of the country - the Southeast. Moving. Thousands of people do it every single day. It's pretty simple, right? Wrong. Moving is exhausting. Anyone who has done it can attest that along with re-locating comes an array of every single emotion accompanied by a massive amount of manual labor. I’m not sure there’s anything comparable to the feeling of tired that hits you quite as hard as post-move exhaustion.
At some point all the emotions involved…the goodbyes, all the ‘lasts’, the packing of boxes, the necessary purging, the parting of ways with those sentimental trinkets you simply have held on to for far too long, the loading of the truck, carrying of furniture, the tears…all the tears. At some point these things simply knock you out for the count. It’s like going through this very intentional, very carefully thought out break up. You choose to end daily life in one place with a group of people and begin again somewhere completely new. The ending of a chapter leaves you feeling grateful for what was and anxious with anticipation for what lies ahead...
Though with moving, unlike a break-up, immediately after the end comes the new beginning. After all the blood, sweat and tears you get in the car, drive to a new place and immediately start to say one million ‘hellos’. You begin telling your story to every new person you meet…
The truck you just packed so neatly all the way to the brim now has to be unloaded and all those boxes filled with fragile terrariums and picture frames you so carefully bubble-wrapped now need to be unpacked and set in a new place. All those old things you purged, like the furniture that simply didn’t make the cut, now need to be replaced.
Things suddenly start to feel a little overwhelming. Everything you own has become scattered and where the heck is Trader Joes? Let’s be real, I don’t do well when things are out of place. I’m the girl who makes her bed every single day and unpacks her suitcase immediately when returning home from a trip…no matter how late at night it is, I will unpack it. I function best when things are in place.
All that to say...moving was a refining process for me.
My preference is always to get things done pretty fast. Though, I didn’t want my need for order to get the best of me during this move. I didn’t want to let the desire to finish take the joy out of the process. I’m learning to be ok in the middle and let others help. Often times some things are better left undone…for a time. I didn’t rush; I left some things in boxes until I’d carefully considered where its contents were going to assume a more permanent position. With the whole purging concept, I was left with some pretty functional gaps to fill. All of my folded clothes were living in a body-bag suitcase for a few weeks as I shopped around looking for the perfect dresser. For the record, aside from a bed, a dresser might be the most functional piece of furniture that exists and a suitcase is NO substitute. I need drawers in my life. But what kind of drawers…mid-century, modern, rustic, wood, white?
As the weeks went on, I eventually couldn't take it anymore...it was time to take the plunge and buy that dang dresser. I was secretly dreading this purchase because I live on the second floor and the thought of getting a dresser up a flight of stairs sounded, well…like I might need to ask for help. As you know, not my strength.
My sister, basically the hero of this entire move, came to the rescue and kindly offered to drive with me to the store and transport my new purchase in her SUV. We had no clue if the dresser I chose would actually fit, but why not give it a shot? It ended up fitting perfectly - I’m talkin with one inch to spare! With the help of the West Elm stock-men, they loaded up my new little mid-century 6-drawer dresser and we were on our way! Naturally – I was unsure how we were actually going to get this 215 pound beast of a dresser unloaded from the back of her car, up the stairs and into my room. Details.
As we approached my house I noticed a police officer standing outside talking with two men a few houses down. I wondered what that was all about, but we just kept driving, we had a dresser to unload! We parked and I told my sister…’Don’t worry, I have a plan.’ I proceeded to shimmy all 215 pounds of this dresser out of the car. In my head – I knew we needed help, but I didn’t want to bother anyone to ask. My plan of action was to take the dresser out of the box, remove the drawers and try to move it from the street, up the porch stairs and into the house. A grand plan in my head. Also in my head – I am she-woman and can lift cars to rescue kittens in distress. Though my reality is that even though I am strong for my size, I’m not by any means strong enough to lift half the things my head tells me I can. But alas – I will always try before asking for help. Again, working on this.
Anyways, back to the plan. I had only gotten a few minutes into ripping the box off of the dresser until I realized - this thing was really heavy, and my plan was not going to work. There was no way my sister and I were going to make it five feet carrying this beast, much less take it up a flight of stairs. All of a sudden I noticed the police officer making his way towards us. I said ‘Hello sir, is everything ok?’ He simply smiled and said ‘Yes, it looks like you ladies could use some help.’ I smiled back at him and looked down at the dresser which was now sitting in the middle of the road. I replied ‘YES WE DO!’ I then proceeded to embrace this man with a pretty intense side hug. In the midst of hugging a police officer, [my natural expression of gratitude] I said ‘Oh, I’m sorry – am I allowed to hug you?’ He laughed and said ‘Well yes, we have souls too.’ I looked at him and said ‘ well, you most certainly do, you just came to our rescue!’
There was another man sitting on his porch across the street. A few minutes later this man got up and made his way over to us to offer his assistance as well. Before I knew it, these two complete strangers were lifting my dresser, carrying it up the porch steps and then suddenly standing in my living room. 'Oh you can just leave it there, we’ll find a way to get it upstairs.' I said. The police officer proceeded to begin taking out the drawers and replied ‘Well, while you’ve got us here, we might as well take it up where it needs to go!’ I said ‘Oh no, you don’t have to do that!’ He insisted. A few minutes later these men were climbing the stairs carrying a 215-pound dresser all the way up. My sister came up and gave them both a drink of water. We then proceeded to exchange names and get acquainted with one another.
I was overwhelmed….
Here we are living in a day in age where it often feels like everything in the news is negative; the hate, the prejudice, the crime, the division, the selfishness…the unkindness of humanity.We've grown accustomed to shouting our agendas and opinions so loudly that the voice of peace has almost become silenced. We’ve lost sight of our need to understand and help each other, stopped listening and begun to ignore the simple yet unifying acts of kindness we encounter each and every day.
WE’VE BECOME DEFENSIVE WITH OUR WORDS AND BUILT WALLS OF HOSTILITY INSTEAD OF BRIDGES TO RECONCILIATION.
Yet, that day I sat front row and watched kindness take the lead. Two complete strangers walked into my situation and lent a hand…without asking what I could do for them in return. These two men were a walking display of kindness and kindness brings this sort of hopeful perspective back to life. An old boss used to tell me “Leigh, don’t block the blessing!” Even though this statement always made me laugh, she’s right. I’m learning to ask for help...and embrace the gift that it is to receive. We're meant to run together.
Eventually these men made their way downstairs and went on their way. When they left my sister and I looked at each other and just started laughing. ‘You can’t write this stuff!’ I feel like I say that statement all too often. A few minutes later the police officer came back. ‘I came back for my water…I realized how thirsty I was when I got back in my car.’ he said. I gave him the cup of water he was drinking from, he smiled and said ‘thank you!’ I told him I hoped to see him again and thanked him for taking time to help us out, it really meant a lot.
What if we took a break from so quickly recognizing all of the negative and started intentionally recognizing kindness?What if we walked freely embracing the privilege that it is to receive, invest in others, offer what we have, and give.
Maybe we need to LEARN HOW TO RECEIVE IN ORDER TO FULLY UNDERSTAND THE DEPTH AND POWER OF GIVING.
The dust has settled and things have found their place. I can honestly say - I'm loving this new season! Here I am...living in a new place writing on a lazy Saturday. Writing - I came here to do this more. This city might be the writers capital of America but I can either choose to let intimidation derail my purpose or embrace where I am today, ask for help and let others help me...
Every time I find myself on the other side of any season or major life event I look back and so clearly see how much the kindness of others has carried me through.
Whether you’re exhausted, eager to end a hard season, on cloud nine, anxious to get to where you’re headed or skip over this current moment…don’t rush on to the next. Don’t let the desire to finish take the joy out of the process. Take your eyes off the end just for a moment and fight to remain present. Ask for help, throw out a side-hug or two and party on! Learn to be ok with a few unpacked boxes and let some things remain undone. They're all a part of becoming together and we become a whole lot better when we let the kindness of others carry us, or even our dresser for that matter.
Pictured: West Elm Modern 6-drawer Dresser.