The Change of Life

Terry Brezsny Ballantyne
- Terry Brezsny Ballantyne

The Change of Life

I always thought this was about a woman’s period!  You know, the passage from maidenhood to mavenhood.  The dreaded transition from youth  to a life of a bored and sexless routine.  Gray days of wrinkles and regrets.  Well, guess again!


The real “Change” is happening to couples and singles who realize they are getting olderl and need to create a homelife that will work for them  into their 90s.  And if their health is not an issue, they want freedom from earthly ties  and to simplify their lives. They want to travel and cast off the responsibilities of life  as fast as you would drop a hot potato.


But here is the rub.  They are still attached to the memories of that old life and the idea they can outwit Father Time. Somehow, since they still feel 40 years old,  maybe they don’t need to rush this downsizing thing. For most  humans, the mind moves before the heart. Remember when you realized your girlfriend was not true? Your mind knew what to do but your heart resisted long after you knew the facts. So it is with downsizing.  We creep into the event, no sprinting here.


Most well meaning Realtors will tell you the  usual tripe:  “ Declutter, and hire a packer.”

They will give good counsel on how to move the physical things, empty the garage, pack the spices, put away photos.  But what most won’t tell you is that every single item in the house has meaning. Personal and intimate and unfathomable to others.


The dress you wore to your son’s graduation. The fly rod that caught  that huge trout.  The coffee table you found on your honeymoon.  The knick knacks you bought on vacation in Europe.  The rug you brought home from Tunisia.. The porcini mushrooms from Campo di Fiori.

How do you part with these treasures? On what day are you emotionally prepared to toss them?  Tomorrow it will be easier you tell yourself. ( and your Realtor)  But tomorrow you are flooded with just as many precious memories as today and the objects linger.
This is why it takes special skills to move people from their family home to the next chapter in a smaller dwelling, or a new state, or a different country. It’s not all about selling the house. It’s about being patient while people let go of memories or  their dreams.  They must  accept that they won’t now  have time to become an artist so it’s time to put aside the canvas, paint and brushes. That hurts. And nobody finds it easy to really embrace the golden years.  But they are full of joy and once folks have let go and moved on, they find new pleasures.  We will talk about that next.

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