A spacious place. Rescued and delighted in. Isn’t that what this simplicity thing is about? I came upon this and thought, “Yes! That’s exactly it!”
A few weeks ago while visiting family in my hometown I hiked through an old, abandoned four acre lot overgrown with weeds, sticker bushes, and a deserted apple orchard. This is where one of my childhood homes once stood.
The yellow house, garage and workshop, the goat barn and grape vineyard gone; disappeared. No trace of that old farmhouse built in the 1930’s or the short, but surely significant, year of my life almost 20 years ago.
I trekked through the long grass determined to find my eighth grade self underneath all those years of uninhibited nature only to find a few scraps of siding and broken window blinds.
This was where I picked and pressed hundreds of flowers for my eighth grade science project. All those brightly colored species that surprised us in early spring. It was where I gladly mowed a couple acres of grass and jumped out of my skin at the occasional garner snake slithering away in fear.
This place was the final year of our farm; the conclusion of years raising dairy goats; breeding, kidding, milking, showing, and the daily duties of farm life.
This was where I woke to my mother whispering we had to leave, Grandma didn’t have much time. We drove three hours to say goodbye to the women we’d met only four years prior. At sixteen she placed my dad for adoption and thirty six years later tracked him down, filling our family into hers with unconditional love and grace.
Here, I would drift toward the kitchen a few days later and witness my dad fall broken into my mom’s arms. The first time I ever saw him cry.
Space was all that remained now.
He brought me into a spacious place—a place to remind me that to fully live is to not remain still, frozen in time with material representations of what once existed. A rich life is the experiences we create, not the things we buy to remember those experiences.
Here are a few reasons why memories are better than things:
1. Memories are performers, not statues.
Memories are meant to be wild and free. I admit that I got overly sensitive and nostalgic seeing this childhood home completely leveled and abandoned. But unexpectedly, that day taught me perhaps the most important lesson on living simply thus far—memories come alive, vividly dancing before us when we stop appropriating them to an object and offer an empty stage for them to perform inwardly.
The spacious places are where our memories show us the endless possibilities to believe in something greater, something truer than anything we’ve ever owned. Like the moments we are inspired by a story on screen or stage, the best performances allow us to dream.
2. Things restrict our lives, memories expand it.
It’s the way our lungs expand eagerly on the mountaintop reaching for the crisp, pure air. It’s the salty taste of the open ocean mist on our lips. It’s in the horizon bending orange and pink giving way to the speckled night skies of day’s end. Our memories create a bigger life.
We spend time and money trying to hold on to what we experience, afraid to let it go and be free. So, we fill our homes with memorabilia and place all our faith that it will be as rewarding as the moment. But silently the object steals away the most beautiful details and contains it to a shot glass or 4×6 piece of film paper or a figurine.
It’s clear to me now that maybe that empty lot wasn’t meant to be occupied forever. Perhaps, removing the old and letting the space be free, to grow organically for a season (or eighty) is where life is made whole.
3. Memories create windows, things block the view.
I’m almost positive if that house remained and I walked down the driveway, I wouldn’t consider being grateful for that place. I’d steer clear of that scary space beneath the stairs. I’d shutter at the shag carpet upstairs. Or, most assuredly, I’d turn in disgust remembering the lady bug infestation we had that summer.
In that open space I looked through my soul window and saw everything that home unique and beautiful. The memories danced for me, uninhibited by walls.
Our best memories are the brightest and most joy-giving out in the open. The spacious place where that yellow house once stood is not a graveyard of my childhood, it’s where my best and most important joys and sorrows of that year run free and give my story beauty.
I was brought into a spacious place and rescued—and now I seek spacious places everywhere. I hope you will too.