It was one of those frigid, below-zero days we had a few weeks ago, when the biting wind made it feel even colder.

“It’s supposed to be 30 degrees this weekend,” my husband said.

I love it when the weather can still be below freezing, but it feels like a heat wave compared to what it’s been. Now, however, this wasn’t particularly welcome news.

“It figures,” I said. “Just when we’re going out of town for the weekend.” We had planned a quick trip to Georgia, where we’ll be moving soon, to spend a few days there and do some work in our new house.

“No,” my husband said, “I mean 30 degrees in Georgia. And snow.”

That sent a chill down my spine. All of a sudden, 30 degrees didn’t seem so balmy anymore. It was back in the “frigid” category. I wasn’t expecting swimsuit weather in Georgia, but I wasn’t expecting freezing weather, either. It had been in the 60s earlier in the week, and would be even warmer the following week. But not while we were there.

That’s when it really hit me how relative everything is. Words like hot, cold, large, small, weak, strong, and so many others depend on where we’ve been. And what we’re comparing them to.

Since my husband and I are downsizing when we move, we’re losing about a third of the space we were used to in the house we’ve lived in for the past 17 years. Although we’ve been giving away and throwing away a lot of things we no longer need, we’ll still have to get used to a smaller space. However, we’re now living in an extended-stay hotel while getting ready for the move, so we’re temporarily in much smaller quarters than we’ve ever lived in before. It felt almost claustrophobic at first, but we’ve gotten used to it. And we figure that now, when we get to our new house in Georgia, that “smaller space” will feel like a sprawling mansion in comparison.

Since we moved into our current quarters with only the clothes and belongings we figured we’d need for the few months we’ll be here, it’s made me really focus on what’s important and necessary, and what’s not. What I really need, and what’s just nice to have. There are some things I really miss and will look forward to having again, like a full-sized and fully-stocked kitchen. Other things I realize I don’t really need. Or I don’t need as much or as many as I’m used to having. Clothes, books, decorations, mementos.

I’ve also been reminding myself that what I consider to be small and sparse surroundings, people in many parts of the world – and even some areas of our own country – would consider lavish and luxurious. Solid walls. A soft bed. Running water. Electricity.

It really puts things in perspective. And it helps me realize what new discoveries I’m already making, whether I’m looking out at my surroundings or within myself. It’s an exciting adventure, and it warms my heart – no matter what the temperature may be outside.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on January 19, 2017.
©Betty Liedtke, 2017

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