Later this year we’ll mark our fifth anniversary in Finland. As I look back over the past five years I am amazed at the life I’ve lived, but I also see missed opportunities. There are a lot of places where I have hesitated on things, because too much of the future was uncertain. This is the life of an expat/immigrant: don’t make plans when someone can come along and pull the rug out from under you.
The thing is, I’m wrong. It’s okay to still want things, and to work for things. I just need to have contingencies. Think of it as a journey. Say the goal is to drive from Los Angeles to New York. Today is LA. Five years from now is NYC. I’m not making plans because it’s possible that I-80 might be closed down. Even if it is, there are other ways to get there. I just need to account for possible detours and delays.
I Want Things to Be Simpler
I want to own a house again. A space where I can settle in and get comfortable. Where I can buy the furniture I want, and not have to worry about moving it, or selling it if we move out of the country and it’s expensive/impractical to take the furniture with us. I’m not looking to become massively materialistic all of a sudden, but there are some nice pots and pans that I’d like for my kitchen. There are reference books and favorite novels that I’d like to have print copies of. I have some artwork that I’d like to acquire and adorn the walls with.
And I want a dog. It’s been too long. Ten years, actually. I miss having a dog. Living in a long-term temporary situation isn’t conducive to that. A dog makes you think about things. You have to go for walks. It’s not a complication, it’s a reason to streamline your lifestyle to accommodate that love and companionship.
I Want My Creativity Supported
I want a proper desk, in a proper office. Separation between working and not-working is a goal. Five years writing at the kitchen table is a lot. I want to hang poster-sized copies of the covers of some of the books I’ve written on the walls. Have physical copies of reference books handy. A sofa where I can stretch out and read. Peace and quiet.
This will all be justified by the fact that my business is well-established and doing well. We’re heading into the three-year mark right now, so we’ll be going on eight years at the end of this daydream. A lot of foundational things will be in place, and running on auto pilot. Hopefully I’ll have other people to handle some of the day-to-day operations. I want to be able to focus on the creative end of things, and not be the bloody accountant and office manager as well.
I Want to Thrive
A permanent base of operations will allow me to do other things. Katie and I love to travel, and visit museums. We love to buy postcards and prints of artwork we love, and decorate our home with it. Having a fixed location is much more conducive to that. I want to have a pantry, and do canning, because I also want to have a garden. Even if it’s small, even if it’s seasonal things in pots on a patio, I want to grow things. You can’t do a lot of that when you know your situation is temporary.
I want adequate space to have people over. We do have folks over for dinner, and to play games, but it’s cramped. This place wasn’t built for entertaining. A living room large enough to host a movie night now and again would be lovely. This small apartment is adequate to our needs, but it’s not a particularly social space. There has to be a better balance between utilitarian and functional, and there are levels where this isn’t practical.
Five Years from Now
Minimalism is getting rid of the things you don’t need to make more space for the things that you do. I currently do not have the things that I need or want. Five years from now, I will not be making due. I will not be finding work-arounds, or finding alternatives. There really isn’t a lot that I want or need, but I will have the very specific things that I desire and require.