Updated May 6th, 2023
When Opportunity Knocks, Open the Door
“When opportunity knocks, answer the door.”
Let’s start with the rats…
When I first moved to Vancouver Island years ago, I learned to accept that rats were part of the deal, so I best get used to them. And for the most part, I had learned to accept them…at least when it came to them living under my sun room and in my sheds.
But when they moved INTO my crawlspace one winter, I laid down the law and called in the big guns a.k.a. Patrick, The Rat Guy.
Unfortunately, I saw an awful lot of Patrick in the months to follow. He popped by my place on a regular basis to remove the remains in discreet little black body bags.
Patrick did his best to figure out WHERE the rats were getting in. Just when he thought he had sealed off the last possible port of entry, low and behold another dead rat would be found in one of his traps.
He was puzzled, I was frustrated…and the body-count continued to grow.
So one day, I referred to my handy-dandy book about animal spirit guides…thinking perhaps the Universe was trying to, you know, send me some sort of message.
This is what the book said under “Rat”:
“If rat shows up, it means…take an inventory of the material goods you have and recycle or throw out what is no longer purposeful.”
Then Patrick gave me some homework
As you may know, rats themselves aren’t just a problem…so is what they leave behind. Rats can transmit the viral disease, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. This disease can be spread by inhaling dust that is contaminated with rat urine or droppings as well as direct contact with the feces or urine.
Once Patrick was reasonably confident that he’d finally dealt with the rat problem, he disinfected the entire crawl space (and the sheds) and cleaned up all the droppings as best he could…considering he had to work around multiple stacks of boxes stored in my rather cramped crawlspace.
My homework was to go THROUGH those boxes and get rid of as much as I could.
So that is exactly what I did. Many of those boxes hadn’t been opened since I had moved in 7 years earlier. There had been no space upstairs to put more stuff, so I saw no reason to open the boxes.
I also knew – hoped, with all my heart – that I would be moving from that home sooner rather than later….so getting rid of as much extra stuff as possible, in preparation for that, was probably not a bad idea.
Little did I know what tremendous opportunity was waiting, just around the corner.
Decluttering, I have discovered, is a process.An item we might feel the need to hold on to at one point in our lives, can become something we are more than ready to toss the next time we see the damn thing. Click To Tweet
Sure enough, as I worked my way through the boxes, I was able to get rid a lot of the items. A heart-breaking example is the moment I came upon a box from the Calgary Police Service’s Property Room (flagged with an orange biohazard sticker).
I knew damn well what was in there.
I also knew the time had come to say farewell to those particular items: the uniform shirt my husband, John, had been wearing the night he died (ripped open by the K-9 officer so he could perform CPR), the K-9 officer’s shirt (used to roll up as a pillow and placed under the back of John’s head), a broken piece of ceiling tile (from the false ceiling he fell through because there was no safety railing in place) and the boots John had been wearing.
But truth be told, other than THAT box of dreadful memories, more often than not I smiled at all the great memories accumulated thus far from a pretty awesome life.
In fact, I was really glad I hadn’t tossed some of my favourite childhood things. As I went through those items again, I felt a profound appreciation for all that my Mom did for me when I was growing up…all the incredible experiences and opportunities she gave me.
Here are a few childhood treasures I discovered:
- My red downhill ski boots from 1974 (when I was 6)
- My Brownies outfit, complete with badges
- My baton and a few of my costumes I remember my Mom sewing
- The hat I wore at summer camp with all sorts of different pins on it
- My blue soccer jacket the year we won the city championships (grade 8)
- My favourite record – the soundtrack of the movie, Grease – and matching trading cards
I did my best to follow Marie Kondo’s advice to only keep items that “spark joy.”
And then wouldn’t you know it, shortly after going through the mountain of boxes in my crawlspace and purging what I was ready to purge, I got the proverbial knock on the door.
Sometimes opportunity does, literally, knock on the door.
I opened the door to find a realtor standing on my porch.
My annoying neighbour (a whole other story) had finally put his house on the market – and the realtor representing him wanted to see if I was interested in selling my home to a developer, who was interested in purchasing both our properties.
Yup, that’s right…the neighbour who infuriated me so many times over the years turned out to be very handy in ensuring I got a heck of a lot more money for my home than if I’d sold on the open market to an individual buyer.
And, of course, the rat infestation turned out to be instrumental in ensuring that I had started the decluttering process…so when the opportunity came to sell my home, I was ready to say YES!
And there you have it. Life is just one big paradoxical mash-up of joy, laughter, sorrow, tears, anger, frustration, memories, experiences, dreams…and sometimes a rat or two (or more) sent our way to get things rolling.
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Maryanne Pope is the author of “A Widow’s Awakening.” She also writes screenplays, playscripts and blogs. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a co-founder of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive Maryanne’s blog, “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” please subscribe here.