Mr. Appleby, an esteemed family friend, describes the process of moving as “traumatic.” Upon hearing this quietly announced proclamation, I study his expression for clues. Does he mean traumatic as in sirens blaring trauma? Or does he kindly offer sympathetic hyperbole, having been told of my family’s move to a new home?

Being the adheres-to-the-facts lawyer Mr. Appleby is, I suspect he means traumatic as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary: “. . . refers to an experience that is emotionally painful, distressful, or shocking, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects.”

It seems that nothing is permanent, it all feels transientWhere to begin? Four children, thank G‑d (check). Parents (check). And then the gargantuan umbrella: “stuff.” Lots of it. Big stuff like a glass table with iron legs. Little stuff like Silly Bandz and doll shoes. Medium stuff—lots and lots of it.

Taking my hereby copyrighted Noah’s Ark Approach to Packing , I employ a three-tier packing strategy. Or should I say, stacking tragedy? Move-ing right along, the Torah relates that Noah’s ark consisted of three levels. The topmost level housed the humans: Noah, his wife and their children. The ark’s middle floor sheltered the animals, and its lowest level contained garbage.

Keeping the humans of my home in mind foremost, I commence by packing items used on a regular basis. Such items are assigned to labeled boxes—coats, clothes, shoes, boots . . . the boxes are speedily filled, bringing to mind a time-lapse film. Behold! A ten-foot wall of snow magically formed in sixty seconds.

Fast forward. Done! That went rather well, I remark to the thirty-eight-percent-boxed apartment. With bated breath, Mr. Appleby’s words await.

The “middle floor packing” is more painstaking. There is a preponderance of toys and knickknacks. It feels wrong to throw them out; it feels ridiculous to take them along. The process of deciding becomes fraught with deliberation. Time is money, and I cannot afford circuitous trips down memory lane. I shift into amnesia gear and hurl anything hurl-able into the oversized garbage bags I have tied to various disposal outposts in my quickly disappearing apartment.

Fast forward. Sort of done . . . but maybe not. I need to throw out more stuff. Tug of heartstrings. What if my children want to see my doodles from Grade Eight? More importantly, what if I want to see their doodles from age two? There are no easy answers.

“Garbage level” packing proceeds with little pomp and ceremony. A threadbare rug, hobbled lamp, cookbook embalmed in batter and random keys, as well as things that go chink and clang in the night, are hurled into garbage bags. But wait . . . but wait . . . but waaaaaait! The incinerator door slams shut over and over again. Each time it opens its metal jaws there is a taking away, moving away.

We are moving.

Mr. Appleby says moving is traumatic.

Esther, in her charming cursive, encourages me to remember the treasure trove of talents I’ve been gifted with. Bobby (grandmother) wishes me a wonderful summer. The postcards and letters—hundreds of them—swim before me. Mommy! Totty! I sit on a broken chair, crying. The chair will soon be trashed, but I fiercely tuck away my letters—preserved for posterity.

There is only one thing to do upon having reached a packing impasse. Order a butterscotch sundae with fudge topping. And ponder.

Over time, I have less and less answers. What to keep, what not to keep—for which reason. It seems that nothing is permanent, it all feels transient, slipping out of my hands into boxes, into the incinerator, into the dumpster. Falling away. Is this what we feel at the end of life? How alienating, how frightening.

Get a grip, my Not Packing Self intones. You’ve got your anchors; reach for them! All you need now is a grounding thought—something to propel you from point A to point B without being catapulted into outer space.

I own two treasured copies of Hayom Yom—an anthology of Chabad aphorisms and customs arranged according to the days of the year. I have not packed either yet, for, as the title states, such books are best used on a daily basis.

Indeed, it is time for an emergency briefing, to which I invite myself.

Why am I here? (Hayom Yom, 3 Elul)

Whoever has faith in individual Divine Providence knows that “man’s steps are established by G‑d,” that this particular soul must purify and improve something specific in a particular place.

The questions give way to answers: answers that sustain me as I sort through my worldly possessionsFor centuries, or even since the world’s creation, that which needs purification or improvement waits for this soul to come and purify or improve it.

The soul too, has been waiting—ever since it came into being—for its time to descend, so that it can discharge the tasks of purification and improvement assigned to it.

What matters? (Hayom Yom, 9 Nissan)

Jewish wealth is not houses and money. Jewish wealth, which is eternal, is the observance of Torah and mitzvos, and bringing children and grandchildren into the world who will observe the Torah and its mitzvos.

What is my purpose? (Hayom Yom, 7 Adar I)

“It is imperative that every Jew know that he is an emissary of the Master of all, charged with a mission—wherever he may be—of bringing into reality G‑d’s will and intention in creating the universe, namely to illuminate the world with the light of Torah and avodah (divine service). This is done through performing practical mitzvos and implanting in oneself fine character traits.”

The questions give way to answers: answers that sustain me as I sort through my worldly possessions.

Yes, Mr. Appleby, moving is indeed traumatic. I emphatically agree. At the same time, it has proven to be other things for me as well: meaningful, paradigm-shifting, and—in the interest of finding a rhyming word for traumatic—emblematic.

It would be dishonest to say moving has not been traumatic. At the same time, I would also be telling the truth if I said it’s not so much about leaving as it is about returning home.