Burn it All Down

I am possibly a little melancholy today because I signed up for a free trial of Amazon Music Unlimited (that’s an affiliate link, there) and have now listened to the Moana soundtrack three times in the matter of a few hours. I could lie and say I downloaded it for the kids, but in reality, it was all for me.

Moana, like so many of the modern Disney films, is all about strength and finding your own way in the world. When the main character sings about how far she’ll go, I admit it makes me want to tear up a bit. As I sit surrounded by stacks of clutter and heaps of paper, it’s hard to imagine that at one time, I had my whole life in front of me too.

The Course Has Been Set

While I like to think I still have a few more years to go before hitting the actual midway point of my life, 40 seems to be close enough. Like retail therapy, I’ve decided mid-life crises are real. After years spent looking forward, I am now mainly looking back…often with sadness and regret.

Unlike the Moanas of the world, who have their lives laid out in front of them, it feels as though the die has been cast for me. Yes, it’s never too late to change course, but the wide open expanse of possibility has been eliminated. Any change made at this point would be incremental at best.

There are children to raise, parents to watch and roots that have already grown. Even if I could pull my kids out of their schools or leave my mom behind in an assisted living home, would I really want to?

Twenty years in the same town has led me to create connections that aren’t easily broken. Do I really want to leave the church that feels like home or walk away from the local business I’ve worked to create with friends?

I think not, and that simultaneously heartens me and depresses me.

No Reset Button to Be Found

Oh to be young and have the open road before you.

The feeling of being trapped in my circumstances isn’t new. I wrote about it previously in this post. I think the difference now is that I feel like time is no longer on my side. After Tom died, I thought I was young enough at age 35 to reinvent myself.

Now it’s five years later, and guess what? No reinvention going on here.

Instead, it’s been five years of the same old grind. Reality has sunk in that all the fantasies that may have been possible as a 20-year old are laughably impractical as a 40-year old. Despite the optimistic blog posts from people living in their RVs, I’m here to tell you that selling all your worldly belongings and taking to the road isn’t easy – or responsible – when you have children and the elderly relying on you.

And those worldly possessions are what cause me the most consternation nowadays. I often wish I could just burn it all down. Start over. Have nothing but the clothes on my back and the ingenuity of my mind.

Ok, that is an exaggeration….and a figure of speech (Heaven help me if my house should actually burn down someday and the insurance company take this post the wrong way!).

Clutter: The Defining Problem of the 21st Century?

I don’t think I’m alone in wishing there was some way to hit reset and try this all again. Decluttering seems like a never-ending chore when six other people are constantly bringing things into the house. I long to be Ma Ingalls who seemingly had nothing but a single ceramic shepherdess to adorn her house.

My house is filled to the breaking point with things I neither want nor need but purging these items is strangely difficult. There are the 35+ mugs and two dozen bread plates my mom bought. Then, there are the photo albums and sentimental items that I don’t ever look at. But once those things are gone, they are gone so I don’t dare take them out with the trash.

Finally, I have a store of items that represent a significant investment – like my (no exaggeration) hundreds of bags and purses I purchased in the wake of Tom’s death. I really should put these up on eBay to recoup some of my costs but that feels like an overwhelmingly monumental task so sit in my closet they do.

A year or two ago, I would have ended this post by resolving to go forward, newly motivated and enthusiastic, to reframe my life into the one I want. However, now, being older and apparently more cynical, I think I’ll just listen to Moana again and get misty eyed over what was lost and will never be found.


    1. Maryalene,
      Raising all those kids is a monumental achievement, and I don’t think you can get rid of the clutter while you are doing it. I still can’t do it! I have been reading Maria Shriver’s new book, I’veBeen Thinking….I recommend it. (Although Maria and I are much older than you). Hang in there!
      Karin Waterbury

      1. I keep trying to remind myself that!

        Also, I’ve never heard of that book but will need to add it to my list.


    1. I had to ‘get a life,’ when my late husband made it clear, he was not happy working locally and wanted to drive freight over the road. So there were a lot of painful mixed feelings when he died in a trucking accident, and even some denial. That death happened in 2008. I heard a cousin tell my mother in law “Be patient with yourself,” as she grieved for the son who took his life. And all that is true. BUT, if you really don’t see a changing future for yourself at age 40, it’s clear that you have no clue how young you are. You sound depressed…or maybe just scared. Do SOMETHING for yourself, whether it’s therapy or just taking a class. Ask for help if you need it. Pride is expensive if it costs you everything.

      1. I appreciate your concern Dorothy.

        At this point in the game, I don’t think I am depressed or scared. Just realistic. 🙂

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