Every day, I make my coffee and sit down at my computer. The first site I check is realtor.com. Every day, I think, “This is it. My house will appear. This is the day.” Every day, I’m disappointed.
I want a house. I’ve wanted a house for awhile. I’ve wanted a house since before I started paying off my student loan debt. Only in paying down the debt, and the lessons learned during that journey, have I been able to reasonably consider buying a house. The only problem became the urgency in my desire. I wasn’t finished paying off the debt, yet I made it a priority to start looking for a house.
No house is appearing. I’ve looked at a few that “would do,” but that’s no way to spend $100,000 (or more.) I get increasingly frustrated with every day that a house doesn’t appear for me. That frustration is not a good place from which to search.
Over the past week, I’ve been thinking about my split priorities. I’ve paid my loan down to less than $10,000. I started new savings accounts for furniture and closing costs – as if I were finished paying off the debt. It suddenly didn’t concern me anymore.
Well, that should be of some concern.
I started thinking about the last mile, and how I need to finish strong. I’m close to paying off the debt. If I wipe out my furniture and closing costs savings account, I can make a significant dent in the loan by the end of the year. I’m afraid to do that, though, because I’m afraid I’ll sit down at my computer one morning and it will finally be the day. I’m afraid that I’ll wipe out those funds on my loan and then a house will appear.
Once a house appears, though, I won’t have the extra money in my budget to make the larger payments on my debt.
It sounds like a dilemma. I’ve been debating myself for weeks.
Over the weekend, I bagged up some clothes I no longer need. I had them stacked in front of my bookshelves for over a month. I got tired of them taking up space, and finally packed them up and put them in my car so I can take them to a donation site.
The removal of the unnecessary clothing unblocked the view of my books. I could sit in bed and see them clearly. Last night, before bed, I glanced over and noticed the pale blue spine of Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod. I haven’t thought about that book in a while, but I remember when it came out. Years before, I’d come across an interview with Janice on a craft site, and then later noticed an ad for her artwork on a different site. She creates stunning illustrated letters that she sends from Paris. She makes a living selling her work, and is able to support her life abroad. Her book tells her story.
She was an unhappy, lonely, and bored copywriter in her mid-thirties when she decided to start working her way through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. She wrote three pages every morning, and that’s where the first rumblings of her Paris dream started taking shape. She stopped shopping, cleaned out her closet, started painting again, saved enough money to quit her job and travel for a year, and then did just that.
But wait, that’s not the point. The point is this: before she did any of those things, she took a trip to Rome with a friend. She went to confession at the Vatican, and the priest told her “everything I didn’t know I needed to hear.”
“He said there was a plan,” MacLeod writes, “and if I had what I thought I wanted, there could be problems. He said to trust, to assume my current circumstances were for my benefit. He said to be grateful both for what I had and what I didn’t have. If I didn’t have it, I didn’t need it.”
If she didn’t have it, she didn’t need it.
I pulled the book off the shelf last night and read until I found that passage. I read it several times.
If she didn’t have it, she didn’t need it.
If I don’t have it, I don’t need it.
If I don’t have a house yet, I don’t need it yet.
Maybe the house isn’t appearing because I’ve still got work to do. I still have $8,861 in student loan debt to pay off. The house hunt is definitely distracting me from my previous priority – which was the debt. If I believe in “start and the how will happen” then I have to acknowledge that I started paying off the debt and a way to pay off all the debt showed itself to me. I thought that would happen with a house. I thought I’d start looking, and a house would reveal itself. It’s not happening, but that might not be happening because I don’t need it to happen at this moment.
There are so many other things that I could be focusing on: my essays, my health, my debt, my teaching, my hiking. I keep thinking of a house as a container for all of these things. Yet, it’s these things that will one day lead to the right container. And, wouldn’t a container be better filled with things other than unfinished projects and some lingering debt?
For me, the thing that I think I want is a house. For others, it could be a boyfriend or a pet or a trip. It could be anything – anything that makes you feel incomplete. You’re not incomplete, you’re just wanting. It’s just desire. It doesn’t mean that what you want is the best thing for you. It might even be bad.
Trust the timing. If something isn’t appearing, it could mean that you don’t need it right now. It could mean that something better is available a little further down the line. If you don’t have it, maybe you don’t need it.