Come to think of it, many of our moves were our vacations. By the time I had reached the ripe old age of 18, we had moved 16 times. In fact, upon finishing high school, I had attended 12 schools in three different countries.
Through all the chances and changes faced during these many moves, I learned a great deal about life. My lessons included:
(1) Life is Process — Nothing ever remains the same. A few thousand years ago, Heraclitus said, “You can’t put a stick into the same river twice.” He was right. Life is a process where change is inevitable. Accepting this reality makes life so much easier.
(2) Life is Relationships — What really matters most are not places, not accomplishments, not possessions, but people. Truly rich individuals are rich in relationships.
(3) Life is Family — Family can bring vital support and love. For me, my four sisters were a vital support as we all went through the same experiences of losing friends and familiarity time and again, and then rebuilding in yet another unfamiliar place. Our support of one another made the adjustments bearable.
(4) Life is Community — Your neighborhood, your church, your work offers a place for belonging, a place where people know you by name and celebrate in times of joy and support you in times of sadness.
(5) Life is Hope — There is always the opportunity of new birth. No matter what mistakes we may make, as long as our heart is beating there is always hope for new life, new direction, new perspective. That’s exciting.
(6) Life is Perspective — Life is deeply colored by how we view it. Maintaining a positive perspective is the most important lesson I’ve learned in life. Life is what you make it.
One of my favorite stories about moving from place to place is an ancient, yet timeless, fable. An old fable tells of a man who, as he approached a strange city, stopped and asked an elderly gentleman what sort of people lived in his town.
“What kind of people lived in the town from which you came?” replied the elderly man.
“Fine, honest, upright people,” exclaimed the traveler, warmly.
“You will find people here just the same,” the old man assured him.
A few minutes later another traveler stopped and asked the same question. Again the elderly gentleman met question with a question. “What kind of people lived in the town from which you came?”
“Stupid people, fools, the worst of people,” snapped the traveler angrily.
“You will find the same kind of people here,” the wise old man warned him.
What kind of people live in your community? How you answer that question says more about you than the community in which you live.