I didn’t have to know . . . It was enough to trust that what I’d done was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was . . . It was everything. It was my life – like all lives, mysterious, irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be. – Cheryl Strayed, Wild
I am standing in a neighborhood where my kids were born. I know every park and every blackberry patch. I can find my way to friends and family with my eyes closed. I feel a familiar sense of belonging and yet I don’t live here anymore. We left our life here two years ago today. As these facts swirl, and I prepare for yet another departure, the past two years come into focus.
- I will never forget holding my three children close as we climbed the stairs up the Statue of Liberty just before departing the USA for Europe. I thought of that climb during pivotal moments over the past two years when I needed to feel the certainty and clarity inherent in liberty.
- I will never forget how each time we left Italy, I was relieved, and each time we re-entered Italy, I was relieved. We followed this pattern until it felt like home with all its eccentricities, warmth, and knowing.
- I will never forget walking in Picasso’s footsteps through Barcelona, and Dante’s in Florence. I loved feeling their greatness, and yet seeing what they saw in the paths they followed on any given day.
- I will never forget the cathedrals, village churches, and mountain altars whose bells kept us on schedule while reminding us to rest awhile and let our arrival in each new place wash over us.
- I will never forget the people that became our journey. Every region of every country gave us distinctly different faces. We came to understand these differences to the point where even calling it Europe, as one big entity, seems to now diminish the diverse beauty.
- I will never forget how language, music, and even babies crying had a rhythm that I have not experienced in the States. I realize, in hindsight, it was because I could listen without taking in the content behind the noise and therefore it was not noisy. I developed an appreciation for languages that had nothing to do with understanding content and yet everything to do with revealing culture.
This past month I have been running, cramming, balancing, and aiming to please. I have been trying to fit it all in and somehow never have enough time. My time here is limited so I feel limited in my use of it. There have been meaningful connections but I haven’t stopped to let them really land, until now.
I had to remove myself from the noise today to remember the journey. Today I took the time to remember because yesterday it felt like we never left.
It is important to quiet the noise and reflect in order to have the courage to move forward with grace, otherwise, it is just movement and that feels more like spinning than progression. I guess of all the things I have learned over the past two years, that is the greatest gift, and I received it by returning.