Many of us face the unpredictable forces instability unleashes upon our once stable lives, but I have always found that opportunities lie around the corner, we just have to be open enough to see them. Yesterday, we stepped off a cliff into the dark. To celebrate, we went out for a pub meal and last thing at night as we lay in bed, we turned to one another. Our smiles were weak, our expressions dazed. We looked about the cosy bedroom, so comforting with the familiar bookcases, paintings and object d’art; through the open window our dark, sloping garden softened the sharp bleat of lambs from a neighbouring field. The wind rushed through trees on the ridge top where we could hear fox cubs playing.
“This is paradise,” I said.
“Yet today we signed to quit it in just over two weeks time,” my wife snorted.
“It’s too late to stop the sale. Shame. We’re so happy here.”
She lifted herself onto her elbow, “Your health demands we go; if next year is worse for you than this one was, moving would be hell.”
“So sad that we’ve found nothing suitable to buy, nor anywhere to rent.”
“Yes,” my wife who’s usually the one for security, admitted. “Camping’s the only option. Doing so in southern France will be more relaxing than in the British cold and your health always gets a boost in the dry heat. It’s your Africa in Europe.”
In thirteen days we will drive our old van across France, plunging off the cliff, hoping to find that perfect campsite. With nowhere available to rent in until the end of September, we’ll live under canvas. I usually love this, I’ve done it all my adult life, camping takes me back to growing up in Kenya, but this year I feel fragile, daunted.
Yet I yearn to relax in the heat, to laze about, to go for early morning walks, to loll about in warm rivers. I lift myself from self-pity and instil a mindset more open to what lies ahead. Each time the physical negatives invade my brain, telling my mind to relax into the pleasant adventure ahead works, it lifts me.
But even before we begin that stage, we must pack up this house. Years ago when we were first married, all my goods fitted into my very small van, adding my new wife’s, we hired a bigger van, now we need a huge truck, as big as they come. That’s married life for you, you accumulate to suit a life you imagine you need. It’s why I feel released when camping for everything one needs fits into a small car, or even a rucksack. We began sorting in earnest yesterday and this small cottage is now a mess with each of us working in different rooms. Today we must consolidate, store stuff in one room to give us sanity of space everywhere else. I am reminded of an ancient Chinese proverb which claims that a tidy house creates a tidy mind, and vice versa.
It is not only us who are feeling queasy, the entire country is. When we return from the Europe they want us to leave in September, with house-sale cash in our bank we will be in a strong position. Brexit really is spooking the country and the housing market shows this, people are only moving if they have to.
Uncertainty destabilises, but also opens doors and as a people we have choice, to adapt or to sink into mass self pity. Yes, there is always choice. An innocent black American released from decades in solitary confinement, told his interviewer a month after walking free that he was OK, stronger than the youth who entered prison, more at peace with himself. What a man! We can either crumble or gain strength, even with Boris Johnson and Trump out there....