To them Howards End was a house; they could not know that to her it had been a spirit, for which she sought a spiritual heir. ... Is it credible that the possessions of the spirit can be bequeathed at all? Has the soul offspring? ~ E.M. Forster, Howards End
Funny that I should run across that paragraph while considering the sale of my home. E.M. Forster is an author I have been meaning to read, but it was happy accident that I read a collection of his novels at this time. I had taken part in a ReadMob (a sedentary flashmob) at the Arch, and I grabbed a book at random off my office bookshelves, legacy of a departing secretary.
I'm always counseling people that important decisions can't be made by listing out the pros and cons - you have to weight them with appropriate emotional value. But I find this advice hard to follow myself. For example: although I love the bike trails at SIUE, for the past year I've been riding closer to home, to save driving time. It seemed reasonable to cut down on travel and give myself more free time. But I missed the heart of the matter: I love the trails at SIUE. Shady, private - walled in by towering shrubs - silent except for birdsong, chuckling rivulets in the ravines and the occasional chattering cyclists; the air even smells different in the cool, secret woods. My farmland rides are not without beauty, but they don't satisfy my soul.
I tried to tell myself it didn't make a difference. That's the mistake.
I have tried many times over the years to make rational decisions, only to find that the deciding factor isn't rational at all. "But it was Grandma's!" outweighs almost any logical argument you can come up with. But there have been times when I was so torn between conflicting emotions that I went through the "pros and cons" exercise. When I found myself trying to manipulate one column or the other, the answer became clear.
I don't know what I'll do about downsizing my life, or where I'll end up living. I have really deep roots here. But ... mountains! But ... Home. And so it goes. When I tried to discuss it with the heiress, we both got uncomfortably emotional and had to hang up.
Harriet Vane, in Dorothy Sayers' Gaudy Night, asks how we are to know which motivations are of overmastering importance. "We can only know that," replies Miss de Vine, " when they have overmastered us."