I recently went back for a visit – back to my starting point on this planet, to my home town in West Central Scotland where I was fortunate to reconnect with my family, my lifelong friends, but most importantly I reconnected with my self. Had I gone back in time to a place where life seemed simpler, my initial hope, or was I about to discover that the place hadn’t changed at all – I had!
Just as the Earth pivots around the Sun my soul continues to pivot around my childhood home in memories of clean air, wellness of spirit, and familial emotional ties that bind. Initially, I observed the passing of time, however slow, had left its mark on old buildings in the town, excitement in the unexpected vibrancy of emerging generations of new souls rooted there, and in the soft lines on faces and silver strands of hair in the people I hold most dear in this world. Times had changed in my home town, a discovery which challenged my foolish heart.
Warm welcomes rekindled abandoned feelings of belonging and love enabling my weary soul to pull on its old comfy slippers and sit by that fire for a while. Fortified by this deeply personal evolution, I ventured out to seek places in my memory where, through my lifetime, I had left pieces of me. My first stop – the family home. I casually drove over there and just sat quietly in the car outside for a long time as many memories from my childhood, young parenthood, and married life flashed around me turning the inside of the car into a glittering snow globe, of sorts. The gable ended building, dressed in a new coat of fresh paint and gravel chips, acknowledged my presence. Undaunted by overwhelming emotion rising in me, I headed over to the graveyard to say hello to the old and young kin-folks now residing there. I felt them.
In other parts of town I visited all four homes where I had raised my children. One where we brought them home from the hospital when they were new-born, the next where they first started Primary School and another where they attended High School, and ultimately, where it all fell apart. Somehow, the details of that last episode no longer matter – I am finally at peace with it. I gave the best years of my life to raising my children, something I will never regret. It comforts me to know that their continued success is evidence of my love and nurturing through some of the worst times of my life. They have persevered through the changes, as have I. My kids were and will always be the best thing that ever happened to me. I have drawn tremendous courage from having them in my life. They have inspired me to continue as they, in turn, overcame obstacles in their own lives and have grown to be balanced caring adults. For a long time I avoided going back to look at the pieces I thought I had lost, however, in going back I have found healing, belonging, and bounteous love. Those early seeds of thought and conviction I had dropped on the ground have since flourished and grown into tall trees deeply rooted in the culture and history of my hometown.
Back in my current home, I am grateful to wake up everyday and continue to dedicate my life to the care and healing of my fellow-man. The challenges of an Intensive Care Nurse are just that, intensive. I have found that in this life everyone is exposed to physical or emotional pain at some point on their journey. Loss and gain are not always delivered in equal measure, however, if harnessed in a deliberate and thoughtful way, our responses to these forces can become an integral part of building empathy towards others, to be the bigger person. If someone is able to take the energy from a negative experience and turn it into something positive then the world stands to benefit from the unbridled potential within that action. Humankind is capable of many things, but we can make mistakes on our quest to pursue true happiness and unwittingly, drop pebbles into someone else’s pond. Most mistakes can be forgiven whether or not they are acknowledged by the perpetrator, so in my lifetime I have decided my heart will accept the apologies I never got and freely give the ones I feel I owe.
One of my all time literary loves, Kahlil Gibran a Lebanese born American poet and philosopher, wrote poignant notes on this matter when he said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Another gem of his, “How shall my heart be unsealed unless it be broken?”
Life’s experiences mold us and expand our understanding in ways we cannot fully imagine unless we have the opportunity to reconnect with a previous version of ourselves. Therein lies our peace, grace, and dignity – the glue necessary to find and bind all of the pieces of ourselves back together again. And for this opportunity I am truly grateful.