Get out of the basement!

I recently read the account of a 19th Century family that lived the antebellum lifestyle on a plantation inlongwood-house-243078_640 Mississippi.  They had great wealth and grandiose plans to build a unique manor house – the dream of the family’s patriarch.  Construction had started, but came to a crashing halt due to the onset of the Civil War and the patriarch’s untimely death.

Throughout the war, and decades afterwards, the family lived in the basement of this never-finished mansion, Longwood, also known as Nutt’s Folly.   They never recovered from the paradigm shift that the Civil War instigated through the culture and lifestyle of the Old South.

After reading this account, the title of the next chapter of the book* is appropriately named: “Get out of the basement”. 

Although this family’s lifestyle was uprooted and turned upside down through the tragedies of war, they never recovered or thrived afterwards.  They hung on to the past and never moved forward in their lives.  They dwelt in the basement and tragically never adapted to the new paradigm.  They never got out of the basement.

This concept immediately made me reflect on living in the basement, sort of an “a-hah!” moment.  I literally live in the basement.  My bedroom is in the basement of my single-story ranch home.  Because of the bedroom’s amenities and quietness, I have enjoyed sleeping down there for most of the past five years.

However, is it time to move on? 

Should I move out of the basement, both literally and figuratively?  Have I reached the time in my life where I should leave behind the past, and venture out into the world about me?  Is it time to make this change and disregard the paradigms that I have been holding on to these past decades?  Should I move on and explore the world and the next chapter of my life while I am still physically and emotionally capable?

One of America’s most formidable and opinionated writers described my dilemma aptly:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover. — Mark Twain

longwood-house-243078_640Twenty or thirty years from now, I do not want to look back on my life and regret that I chose the path of complacency, relative comfort, and security.  Rather, I want to take risks, explore new options, try new things, savor life, and what it has to offer.

What is holding you back?  What basement are you living in? 

How can you let go of the past and take steps to move forward?

I have started to embrace simplicity as a lifestyle.  I will only carry those items that are essential, whether physical, emotional or relational.

By living simply, I will be compelled to only carry and accumulate that which is needed for a basic lifestyle, and through it I hope to enjoy a richer life.  Without all the extra baggage one accumulates through a consumer-based life, I believe I will be able to explore more, meet new people, write more, reflect on life and read great books and concepts.

My objective is to enjoy each day for what it has to offer, and become a better person as a result – through the people I meet, help and get to know.

It is now time to make the change, and get out of the basement.

What can you do today to get out of your basement?

* Unfinished by Jerry and Mary White

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About John Forrest