“Great! Piece of cake!” is not, however, the usual response. In fact, this is the one response I haven’t heard. Is moving to the Caribbean easy? Not so much. Wonderful? Yes. Exciting? Absolutely! And, along with all of the wonderful excitement is a surprising amount of… pain.
I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t drawn a line between the word columns in my head associating ‘paradise’ with ‘pain.’ Joy, happiness, abundance, unspoiled beauty….these are the words that first came to mind. I even anticipated ‘challenging’ and ‘discomfort’ (i.e. “you’re going to feel a slight pinch.”); however, when conceiving Project Paradise, ‘pain’ wasn’t one of the contingencies.
But I’m not IN paradise yet. As it, and my husband, patiently wait for me to join them, I’m still in the process of getting from here to there. And what feels like a dull ache has been with me since I put the first pair of pumps in the box labeled “Donate.”
Some days, the process seems endless. Since we’re selling, donating, or gifting at least 95% of our earthly belongings, it’s not the actual packing that’s difficult; it’s the sifting. Consider that when you self-fund a 3000+ mile relocation, and more than half of those miles are open ocean, you end up taking very little with you and letting go of everything else. And deciding what 5% to keep is a lot like sifting through a mountain of sand, one grain at a time. (“Like grains of sand through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives,” says a deep voice in my head.)
Put another way, it’s a bit like having your life flash before your eyes, only in really, really s..l..o..w, agonizing motion. At the end of each day, I feel like I’ve attended a funeral…emotionally drained, with a lightness of being that comes with finality and closure.
Before I continue, I can hear some of you groaning, “Is she really complaining about moving to the Caribbean? Giving up a pair of shoes? Are you kidding me right now?” (And the rest of you are smiling and laughing because schadenfreude delights you. You’re welcome.)
Believe me, I get how absurd it sounds. But don’t give up on me yet, because if the whole idea of ‘paradise’ turns out to be a crock, and I’ve just made the biggest mistake of my life, don’t you want to know? At least so you can save yourself and trade it in for a better dream?
I’ll admit to griping a bit. At the same time, I’m doing it with a sense of gratitude (there should be a word for this). And I’m willing to bet that griping is exactly what you would be doing if you were in my shoes. And that is part of the point, wouldn’t you agree? A chance for you to walk through the experience and figure out where reality matches the dream, and where it doesn’t?
So, true, this part of the journey isn’t easy. We all know it as a ‘transition,’ and, if we’re very fortunate, we are blessed with many. And we all know that loss often goes hand-in-hand with transitions, which is why we rarely consciously sign up for them. Instead, we usually come barreling up on them at 100 miles per hour with our eye on the prize. Soon, we realize we will have to empty our hands of something we hold dear before we are able to pick up something new.
While this particular leg of the journey is turning out to be miles longer than it looked on the map, it is the road I chose. So even on the day I was pummeled by the gut-grabbing news that our beloved cat’s health is probably too fragile to make the journey with us, I was able to re-center myself in a place of gratitude and acceptance for “what is.”
“Is it all worth it?” someone recently asked.
“Absolutely!” I wouldn’t have it any other way.