Let’s admit it: life is messy. You’ve got your everyday messes of disorganized closets, overflowing inboxes, and junk drawers. You’ve got your occasional curve ball messes of bad breakups, financial losses, and legal problems. You’ve got your we-appear-to-be-screwed messes of contaminated water sources, climate change, and overpopulation. Sometimes, as the cherry on top, sits a most insidious mess indeed: the messiness of a dream you’ve held for a long time, languishing on a back burner as you make your way through the busyness of the days and weeks. And years.

I’ve come to realize that messes are simply the result of decisions not yet made, actions not yet taken. Why as individuals don’t we do something about that closet? Why as families do we let ourselves get into debt so deeply? Why as members of a global community do we dither over environmental destruction? Why, why, why would we let a dream atrophy? I think we minimize the messes in our lives and defer action because facing the messiness makes us uncomfortable. Making decisions and taking action are hard. It’s easier in the short term to close the closet door, avoid the bank statement, absolve oneself of needing to be part of a solution.

In the long term, though, the messiness seeps into our lives one way or another. If you have an unresolved dream as a mess, it creates discord between what you are doing and what you want to be doing. Who you are and who you want to be. You know, deep down, that there are steps you have not taken to make something happen. An absence of effort. Not doing something has consequences, like it or not, just as picking up one end of a stick means you also get the other.

For me, this trip realizes a dream I’ve had for 20 years — travelling through Central and South America with my family — and thereby expunges the mess I’ve been sidestepping for the last five. Making the decision to DO IT ALREADY led to a cascade of thousands of other decisions and actions, big and little, in the last few months. Downsizing a house to a shipping container and four backpacks, pulling kids out of school, and setting up for life abroad boils down to one judgement call after another. What do we sell? What do we keep? How are we going to get all this to fit in the space we have? (How did we acquire so much stuff?) You can’t defer on a pile of paperwork when there won’t be a desk to put it on come the end of the month.


A photo of our house from the street.

Deciding what to put from this . . .

Our shipping container in the driveway ready to be taken to storage.


But really, once that first decision was made, everything else somehow fell (rather neatly) into place. Friends, family, and neighbours stepped forward with generous offers to help in every way possible. Thousands of little steps were taken, a giant leap for Crosbykind ensued.

Life is messy, yes. But a life mess can be cleaned up. It sounds trite, but all you have to do is start cleaning. And I speak from experience when I say, boy, is it worth the effort.

4, 3, 2, 1, GO!