(I love this prompt. I hope to write a glowing recommendation for failure soon…)
Costa Rica. Toronto.
I have a quite a rhythmic relationship with time and with place.
Whenever I feel the movement of time, I feel compelled to move too. This time the movement was in the form of travel – a literal movement to a different place.
Every time I travel, I feel lost when I return home. I’ve been trying to jump back into the fray of things, but trying to stick with a steady rhythm has been hard. A month of warmth in between months of cold has thrown me off a bit. As soon as we came home in late February, Ever-Patient left for a business trip and I had to plan a logistic nightmare of a weekend which ended with a 6.5 hour drive to and from a tournament in a snowstorm.
It was a little shocking for my system.
Normally we come back from a trip and it only takes us a few days to get back into the groove of things. We have a down day at home watching movies and doing laundry. Then we schedule get-togethers with friends and family to catch up. After that, it’s life as usual.
Taking a step back now, I’ve noticed that the couple of days downtime wasn’t enough. We were forced to get back into a busy life in the midst of a cold snap. We were adjusting physically to the weather. All of my children had nasty bouts of eczema and daily nosebleeds, even the ones who usually never had either of those winter side-effects in the past. The vitamin D high was wearing off and it felt so jarring to be home.
Why was it so hard this time to get back into our rhythm?
As I was wondering how a month away could have such impact with a family rhythm that had been the norm for years, I came across this passage where the author describes what she discussed during one of her lectures to undergraduates at a university:
I talked about places, about the ways we often talk about love of place, by which we mean our love for places, but seldom of how the places love us back, of what they give us. They give us continuity, something to return to, and offer a familiarity that allows some portion of our own lives to remain connected and coherent. They give us an expansive scale in which our troubles are set into context, in which the largeness of the world is a balm to loss, trouble, and ugliness. And distant places give us refuge in territories where our own histories aren’t so deeply entrenched and we can imagine other stories, other selves, or just drink up quiet and respite.
– Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby
And distant places give us refuge in territories where our own histories aren’t so deeply entrenched.
Being away forced us to expand our thinking – to expand the relationship we have with each other and the outside world. It forced us to try new things and open ourselves to opportunity. We had the opportunity to build something new in a short period of time: new routines, new outlooks, new community, new dreams. It forced our imaginations to expand past our life to which we have grown accustomed. This huge expansive breath felt like a spring awakening, a renewal, and a rebirth.
But at home, we contracted again. It was still winter. It was our little world of familiarity and regularity. We stopped looking around because nothing was novel. Our senses immediately recognized the smell of home and the view down the street. It was the place that was attached to our family story. We dived back into a life that was filled with stuff and to-dos.
This movement of contraction and expansion is a rhythm that I follow as the seasons change too. Adding this additional expansion/contraction period through travel made it challenging when we returned home. I spent a month expanding and exhaling outward and now all I wanted to do was to retreat and go inward reflecting on how things have changed for us.
The concept of home now is a little different. Home is no longer a physical place for me. Home is my people – my family of 7. Home has expanded past this space that has seen our family grown from 5 to 6 and then to 7. This is the longest place that I have lived in. Over the last 8 years, we have built this home steadily and I have resisted the urge to look for bigger or better. I have come to love our little home as a piece of us – the eighth member of our family.
I have held onto this home rather tightly because I have always dreamed of raising my children in as little number of homes as possible. This may sound simple but my childhood consisted of moving 8 times before the age of 12. (And I am not counting the extended stays at various cousins’ homes or my grandparents house during the year or over the summer.) For me, a childhood home is a blur. We moved again and again. My home was whenever I was with my family, my grandmother, or my mother – the physical location never mattered.
The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.
– Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes
This feeling has returned like a long lost friend. After being away for a month with my own family, all that mattered was that we were together. Love, forgiveness, and laughter are a huge part of our family identity. This didn’t disappear simply because we were in a different country. It was still there. The importance of the relationship and connectedness that we have with each other far outweighs where we happen to live. And as my children grow and venture out into their own expansions, I feel less attached to my own physical comfort zones.
Here’s the thing: I would like to push past my guarded white picket fences of the ordinary and the convenient.
I want to keep moving. I want to move backward to gain perspective. I want to move even if it means sometimes leaving a place that knows my story well. I want to move past my fears and my anxieties about the known and the unknown. I want to move beyond my expectations. I want to move with people who are my home. I want to move away from haters and naysayers. I want to move towards light and less. I want to move slow and with deliberate joy. I want to move just enough to shake things up. I want to move to keep up with my changing children. I want to move off the beaten path and to the beat of my own drum. I want to move even if I’m told to stay put. I want to move with beauty and with passion.
I want to keep moving.
All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.
– Martha Graham
Oh, and for those who are following my training journal, I have finally updated it…taking it nice and easy…