It has always fascinated me how we, as sapiens, characteristically, go searching for ‘things’ to enhance our sense of joy, happiness or deep fulfillment.
A vacation, a break, a detachment or even a change from what we do, is, ultimately, the most talked about topic, at least in my fold of friendships. My vacation, I’m writing about here, was for almost 22 years, and my detachment was from pain. I lost my mother when I was 24 years old, and, as I now have a (almost), 22 year old son, I can attest to how utterly ‘lost’ I was, as I am, unequivocally, devoted to both my 22 year old and 15 year old sons. These are the ‘bonds’ of the books that we read together, parks that we played in, every school performance, and, basically every single memory that we have shared. So, to suddenly find myself, detached from a similar bond with my mother, was never written into my plans. To find myself returning from a Christmas vacation, that was intended to be my ‘holiday joy’ and ‘restful happiness’ from working long hours on a gym floor, turned out to be one of the saddest and most harrowing times of my life. This too, wasn’t written into my plans.
Instead, that happiness literally fell from me, like a collapsed sink hole, a swallet of dissolution and a deep chasm of sorrow.
Those long days working on the gym floor became my ‘Road More Travelled’, and the pavements that I ran on, became longer roads, longer than the 10km that I managed. Yet, the time spent alone in my flat, became shorter, as, being without my mother to call and share my days with, filled me with delayed dread. This was never written into my plans.
It took months to finally realise, that, by running those hours and hours every week, that I was not going to find her, nor was spending time waiting at home, by myself. She was gone. Forever.
Those months became rebellious years, maybe in an attempt to be angry at her, for leaving my life, without so much as a goodbye or good luck. I was angry and yet hurting, both at her and at myself, and, there is the blame, if ever I saw it. These are those times when you can’t book a vacation, as there is nowhere to go where you can ‘feel’ anything again. So, there is the numbing down of the senses, if ever I saw it. Grief hits you like bullet, and continues to tail you, it appears whilst running those long runs, it confronts you in the car when you are driving, it stands in your mirror and looks you in the eye. It is only then, in that mirror, that we see how grief can take away our spirit. By this time, we can begin to sink or swim, self- destruct or detonate, we can choose another road of life or let the ‘Road Less Travelled’ appear before us.
My road, appeared in the form of New Zealand. The most remote and, geographically, the furthest point I could go to, in order to vacate from my grief. This was my detachment, my chance to seek joy and fulfillment again. At least that is what I thought…
What was meant to be 3 months in New Zealand, turned into 21 years, and two incredible sons, and, the growth of someone who could never be better prepared for adversity and diversity.
Sometimes the ‘Road Less Travelled’, is just a bypass, and sometimes it is the ‘Road of Reason. Sometimes, just as the song, ‘The Road Goes Ever On’ featured in Lord of the Rings, plays into our hearts, we keep walking until we reach our Shire. It can take a lifetime, which it almost did.
I did actually choose my path the second time, (rather than let it choose my journey) and, Lord of the Rings became a familiar presence, both during that journey and even today! The ardent and persistent yearning, the purpose, and the resilience that I was beginning to feel, in order to find joy and happiness, came from the life experiences in NZ. However long or short our journey is from grief to joy, the person who we become, cultivates an unwavering, deep gratitude, and a wholesome sense of love for life again....to be continued.....