Clothes horses and ironing boards. I’ve always thought that would make a good title for my autobiography, if I ever write one. I must have purchased at least eleven of them! Not because I am particularly fond of these household items, but rather due to the fact that they’re both awkwardly sized and relatively inexpensive, which means they tend to get left behind and bought anew, each time I move house. And I move a lot! It’s extremely rare that I ever live in the same place for more than 18 months. At the start of this new year, I find myself, once again, in a state of temporary homelessness, my belongings divided between family member’s garages, attics and spare rooms. I fled London last year when Covid hit, choosing to spend lockdown with family in Norfolk and inherit the accompanied comforts of shared mealtimes, countryside walks and bike rides.
At the end of September, I decided to leave my role as the Head of Security at Justice and Care and go full time with Blue Bear. It made sense, therefore, to rent out my London apartment and, once again, embrace the life of a nomad. Blue Bear, despite its growing success, still pays me zero pounds an hour and the cost of London living would soon evaporate my savings. So, once again, I am to rely on the generosity and hospitality of friends and family, the availability of such, is a blessing I have come to appreciate anew.
As I write this, I’m sat in a yellow wingback armchair, in the bay window of a beautiful holiday home in Cromer, a seaside town on the north Norfolk coast. A dear friend has lent me the apartment for a few months and I’m making the most of this opportunity to enjoy an uncharacteristically restful start to the new year. Each morning I walk a hundred or so yards to the beach, coffee in hand, to stare out at the sandwich of sand, sea and sky which changes composition on every visit. With wave upon wave of bad news hitting us each evening as we sit down to dinner, I’ve found that being close to the ocean helps me feel aware of my relative insignificance, and achieve the sense of perspective, often gained when staring up at a mountain or looking down at the earth from an aeroplane in flight.
‘Look deeper into nature and then you will understand everything better.’ Albert Einstein
I’ve also come to realise, from this latest period of packing, sorting and storing, just how much junk I keep hold of. How is it that this pencil case of dried-out felt-tip pens has lived so long in my possession! It’s strange isn’t it, what we choose to hang onto, often under the premise that we might just need it one day. I don’t think I’ve ever looked back regretfully at something I’ve disposed of or given to a charity shop. I’m embarrassed to admit that I find myself coming across things I forgot I ever owned! A first-world problem, if ever I’ve heard one!
There’s an American writer I like called Bob Goff. Bob is a radical guy and lives an unorthodox life of whimsy. One of the many idiosyncrasies that Bob possesses, is his habit of cutting out the left pockets in all of his trousers. He does so to remind himself of the need to let some things go in life. According to Bob, with every new thing you pick up, you should let go of an old thing.
At the start of 2021, with our minds perhaps focused on what we would like to achieve in the coming year, I wonder what things we first need to let go of? Whether material or habitual, unfulfilled hopes or painful memories, I would imagine that we all cart around a certain amount of crap that we don’t need any more. Perhaps now is a good time to let it go?
For me, the felt-tip pens are going in the bin, the spare clothes are off to the charity shop and my dream of being a circus acrobat has been tossed on the bonfire…but I have to say, I’m enjoying the void which this lifestyle spring-clean has left behind. It feels spacious, there’s room here to stretch, to play and to dream again. It’s a good place for a new start. Give it a try.
Happy New Year.