Minor Thing


“I change the key from C to D
  You see to me it’s just a minor thing”

After spending almost a year and a half living in our 5th wheel trailer, Nathalie and I moved into an apartment last week. The camper adventure was magic, and so will be whatever comes next. And as big a deal as this adventure was, a collection of small things added up to make it happen.

We call him Joey!

Many, many conversations where we dreamt, challenged our assumptions, found alignment and (very loosely) planned. The sum of these conversations led us to take both small and big steps. It led us to become more and more open to possibilities and to notice opportunities for actions that would eventually take us wherever we wanted to go.

Small Steps

Over five years ago, we began purging. The boys were getting older and it was becoming clear how much “stuff” we had accumulated. So, every few months we’d do a bit of sorting and gather some things to give, sell or throw away. As we did, it felt amazing and I began to realize that I really wanted to seriously scale back on “things”.

As a result, early in the process I thought it would be wise to confront what might become my biggest purging challenge. I walked very slowly to the basement, reminding myself to breathe deeply; telling myself “there’s no pressure, just feel it out”; quieting the voice that said “noooo, not this… you have to save this for the end… you can’t handle it!”. I turned the corner into the rec room, and stood face to face with 30 years of my life… my vinyl record albums! At 500 or so, not a large collection, though certainly not negligible. If we’re truly going to purge, I thought, I must tackle this; it will be a defining moment.

Evidently, in this age of technology, I no longer needed good old vinyl in order to access my favourite music. I’m not an audiophile, so my attachment to these LPs was purely emotional. What could possibly compete with that new album smell, removing the plastic wrapper and pulling out the sleeve and record for the first time? The CD booklet, with lyrics and liner notes in size 2 font, never made a friend out of me. How could I replace dropping the needle and appreciating the artwork and lyrics while savouring those 34 to 48 minutes of bliss; interrupted only by the flip to Side 2?

I couldn’t, was the answer. Immediately followed by the clear vision that I had, in fact, rarely exercized that ritual in the last two decades. I was still bathing in my favourite music regularly, just not the same way I did “back then” (I’m trying to use language that won’t make me count just how far “back then” is!!!). So there I was, staring at something that meant, and still means, so much to me. Those memories weren’t going anywhere, but the records were about to.

Step 1 (during that first trip to the basement): quickly pull out any album that I’m ready to part with today. That took care of about 10% of them. Not bad.

Step 2 (not the same day, week, or – I think – month!): partially pull out any album that is a “must have”. This would allow me to see how much I’d need to spend to replace them on iTunes. That number was, to me, surprisingly low at somewhere around 50-60 records. Now I was getting somewhere!

Step 3 (there were delays before and during this step; it was hard you know!): what to do with these albums?? During this period of time, I was speaking to a friend who informed me that vinyl was making a comeback as a hot commodity! Woot! I had been considering garage-saling them at $0.25 a piece. No more. I found a local record shop owner who gave me some decent cash for the ones that were in demand and/or rarer. I sold a few stacks online, and that’s where I got an email from a record and CD wholesaler who made me a decent offer for the remaining lot (they later bought my CDs). I arranged to drop off the ablums. Done!

Step 4 (as I drove back from the warehouse): I just did that!! I just parted ways with the nucleus of my youth. Gone were the records with clever and enthralling artwork (Iron Maiden, Marillion, Rush) that kept me coming back for more. Even the liner notes had some gems in them. Gone were the double albums, the live albums, the scratched and deformed albums. Gone were Zappa, The Beatles, Styx, Triumph, Uzeb, Alan Parsons and… and… and…  But I just did that!! Nothing could stop me now.

Amazing Telepathic Sidebar

As I reach this point while writing the post, my oldest son Marc sends me this text:

“I am tempered by music; I am music by temper”

I find the timing of this harmony between us both beautiful and eerie. I also realize that this is his opening salvo in what is about to be a musically themed exchange of texts filled with puns and plays on words. I reply:

“My moods have tempos; tempos can set my moods”

Marc: “Is music instrumental to your life? Where does it scale?”

Luc: “I run to its rhythm; it is a key to my soul”

The rest of the purging was demanding, but easy to handle and, with every load moved out, we felt so much lighter.

Big Steps

Selling the house was quicker and easier than the vinyl. During a 5 hour drive from Mississauga to Ottawa in Mid-February 2012, we decided to sell the house. By the end of March, it was sold. No looking back. Outstanding decision for us.

(Two years later) We had not planned to buy a camper for another few years, though once in a while we’d browse (small steps) in order to pin down our main “wants”. So it was that we walked into the camper in the far corner of the lot, at the end of our browsing on that late winter afternoon, and said “oh shit!”. It was the one. We knew it. We bought it.

(Two years later) We’ve now lived in the thing for a good long while and I would gladly keep doing so. And we will. Nathalie has just gone back to school to study Computer Programming (big step) so we looked at all of three apartments one morning in June and immediately signed a lease on the third one.

The transition into the apartment was seamless. We felt at home immediately. The move was a breeze thanks to two factors: how little stuff we have (we had kept no furniture!) and the caring assistance of family on the day of the move. I’m writing this from the camper, which is still at the campground until the end of the season and, truth be told, I don’t think either of us were particularly excited to come here for the weekend. Still love the camper, and this park is beautiful and quiet. It’s just that well… we’ve “moved”.

This may be a good time for me to share that I can’t make a small decision without grave distress. It seems that for me, small steps can be easy to trip over while the big ones are a Minor Thing!

“To readjust you’ve got to trust
  That all the fuss is just a minor thing”

Italicized lyrics at start and finish are from Minor Thing – Red Hot Chili Peppers


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