The Great Adventure

Getting Ready for Death and Texas

My wife and I are four weeks away from leaving northern Michigan for the Texas Gulf Coast. Our house looks a little like something between an episode of Hoarders and, “What time did the tornado come through?”. There are boxes and piles of stuff stacked everywhere. A few of the boxes will soon be going elsewhere, and we have sort of a running garage/house/yard sale, with people showing up to pick up items and peruse other things we have for sale. Eventually we’ll get around to start packing up the little bit of stuff that makes the cut for Texas. It has to fit into the back end of a Honda Element, which really helps to clarify one’s thinking about what you absolutely need to live.

The process has stimulated some reflection on our lives. We ended up searching YouTube for Stephen Curtis Chapman’s wonderful song The Great Adventure (which can be heard here). As we listened, we realized it could and should be our theme song. It summarizes our life rather succinctly. We have lived a Great Adventure.

Rita and I have been married 47 years (as of two days before we hit the road). In that time we have lived in Michigan, Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee (Memphis). We have had perhaps 50 different dwellings in seven different cities. We have both been to Italy at different times, and I have also been to South America (Guyana) and the Caribbean (Dominican Republic). Both of us have traveled to more places than either our parents or grandparents. We are the only college graduates in either of our immediate families, going back for at least two generations.

In addition to having way too many photographs (!!), we have memories and stories, which are the most precious things we are taking with us. The places haven’t been as memorable as the people we’ve met, and the “moments” (think about it- you’ll know what I mean). Moments like my grandfather, brother and I standing in front of Graceland when the ambulance rolled up to the house. Found out later that Elvis had died that day, and we were there when the EMS crew came for him. A real Forrest Gump moment.

For some, never settling down in one place, dragging your family all over creation for years, would be an absolute nightmare. I will admit that a good part of the reason for our nomadic life was my own discontentment, and most of it didn’t make much sense at the time. But in retrospect, we have met so many wonderful people in the places we’ve been, people who are still dear, if not near, to us, people who have touched our hearts and given us a piece of themselves to carry with us. Memories that are more precious than gold, that won’t take up any space in the back of the Element, but never have to left behind.

In all of our many moves, we always left things behind, things we no longer needed, things that maybe had lost their meaning or just took up too much space. We’ve probably thrown or given away more stuff than we currently own. This adventure is going to be a little different, because the way we think about our “stuff” now is different. We’ve reached the conclusion that we need a lot less to live day to day than we realize. A bed, a couple of comfortable recliners, maybe a table and a couple of chairs (these will be obtained once we get to Texas). Some towels, bedding, pillows, and our “coccons” (heavyweight afghans my wife made, for those rare times it actually gets cold). A few dishes, an Instant Pot, a couple of cast iron skillets (not giving THOSE up!), a coffee pot (don’t even think about it). A few clothes, since we seem to wear the same things most of the time anyway. That’s it. We’re taking a TV, but if it doesn’t fit we’ll do without and be none the poorer.

So this is our new, and possibly last, Great Adventure before God calls us home to the Greatest Adventure of all. We want to make more memories with our kids, grandkids and other family and friends to take with us when we go home. Having reached an age where imparting a bit of wisdom is permissible, whether it’s accepted or not, let me leave you with this.

Life is a Great Adventure, although it’s not always recognizable as such. Don’t let your days get so mundane that you miss the miracle. Watch a beautiful sunset, walk in a forest in the fall and marvel at the colors, experience the joys and sorrows of your children (and grandchildren) growing up and seeing life through their eyes. Sit at the beach, watch the birds and listen to the waves. Seize and savor the “moments” of life that will live on as everlasting memories. Praising the God who made all of this possible- that is the Great Adventure. Don’t just exist; live. Accumulate things that are more important than just material stuff- houses, money, cars, bling. Make memories. Remember the places you’ve been, but treasure the people you meet. Take pictures if you must, but do it for enjoyment. The memories will last much, much longer.

Here’s to your Great Adventure. Start living it today.

, , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: