Chim Chim Cheree

I’ve been thinking a lot about space lately. Too much. Too little.

S  P  A  C  E

Just saying it, just typing it in spaced-out letters, makes me take a deep, yoga breathe. In… Out…

S   P   A   C   E

Sometimes there is too little:

This from a roadtrip to Green Lake for a weekend of camping. Remember that scene in Mary Poppins where she pulls out her wardrobe and all her rooms furnishings from that one little bag? That is our car. We pull and pull and pull and camping gear just keep piling out. As if from a bottomless, miraculous abyss.

If only getting it all inside the car happened so magically.

Five years ago when we bought the car, it seemed to have ample space. More than we needed. A dog and two children later, space is at a premium. It is still doable, though just barely. And only if you add a Thule roof box and do not mind fighting with your husband every time the car needs loading for a trip out of town.

Packing the car takes the patience of a Zen Master and the precision of a Master Carpenter. Neither of which I am. It is as obnoxious as completing an extreme Sudoku. Or a Rubik’s Cube. Solvable only after several failed attempts, a chorus of swearing and most assuredly, by cheating.

If given the resources (aka- money), we would upgrade to something bigger without hesitation.

But I try to remain grateful for that which we have.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” ~Epictetus

We do all fit in the car, if snuggly. It is paid off. It does run. We do have a car in the first place.

Many do not. Many cannot even fathom it.

That’s the thing about space. Once you have some, you forget that you survived without it. I twice lived in a tiny square cube box with a hotplate for a kitchen. The first was in a college dorm. It was my first place away from home and it was MY SPACE. Extraordinary.

The second was while I lived in South Korea. After a crammed subway ride of plentiful stares and no personal space, my room felt like a sanctuary. It needed no translation. It was my space, in the midst of a foreign land.

Thinking of space in relative terms gives me some perspective. It reminds me that I do not need a bigger vehicle. I merely want one.  Happiness does not come from space itself. Rather from our perceptions about that space.

Geographically speaking, are people in the Prairies, with all their wide-open spaces, happier than those of us out west nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains? Not necessarily. Is my family happier than an extended family in India all living under the same roof. Not necessarily. Does square footage determine living better, being happier? Not necessarily. Not given all other needs, the real ones, are met- food, shelter, water, love.

Allow me, if you will, another Mary Poppins comparison. Bert, the likeable singer, songster, chalk-artist making a living as the unlikely chimney sweeper. A dark, dirty, stuffy job at first glance. Until you hear him sing.

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-ee!
A sweep is as lucky
As lucky can be

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-oo!
Good luck will rub off when
I shake 'ands with you
Or blow me a kiss
And that's lucky too

Now as the ladder of life
'As been strung
You may think a sweep's
On the bottommost rung

Though I spends me time
In the ashes and soot
In this 'ole wide world
There's no 'appier bloke

Chim chiminey
Chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-ee!
When you're with a sweep
You're in glad company

No where is there
A more 'appier crew
Than them wot sings
"Chim chim cher-ee
Chim cher-oo!"
On the chim chiminey
Chim chim cher-ee
Chim cher-oo!

With that perspective, I have the will to pack our car for our upcoming Sunshine Coast getaway. There will no doubt still be plenty of cursing, nagging and stuffing forcefully. But once packed, once the doors are closed and the wind is blowing through the car while Bal whistles “On the road again… I just can’t wait to get on the road again” I will smile. For this family vacation, this family, these memories are my space. Which makes it just right.

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