There are times when we have to stand at the edge and stare into the abyss…
I’ve spent one year in British Columbia. A much needed year in a life that felt off track. In June 2010, I sat on my friend, Kat’s, deck, looking at the mountains, breathing in fresh open air, knowing for many, many months, my life needed a major change. I shared my thoughts with her.
“I don’t know how I can pull a move together. Maybe in a year I could manage.”
“Another year in Toronto is not what you need.”
Kat was right. I was burned out and tired of struggling to make ends meet while dealing with constant physical pain. I made the decision to move west and a few months later I arrived with two cats and the few possessions I didn’t sell.
I am blessed to have been gifted my western sabbatical. I was able to share a studio space with a friend and fellow artist, participate in art shows, and take lots of photos. It was a healing time in many ways. There was no time limit put on my stay, but I started feeling it was time to move forward after nine months had passed. It was time for a more solid plan.
Though I have always had many wonderful and dear people in my life, I often feel like a rootless tree. For years, I’ve felt as though I’ve been visiting the lives of others while not being secure in my own spot. Life is fluid: forever moving and changing; yet others seem to be able to find and hold on solid ground, amidst change. I never wanted to be a gypsy. However, time, change, and choices, seem to have delivered me into a gypsy lifestyle. A great life, provided… that’s what one wants…
At times life has been a great experience; other times it has been emotionally draining and disconnected, leaving me with the feeling of being a wayward soul. The prodigal son has often visited my thoughts. Not that I’ve squandered life, I have not – however I have felt lost and far from home.
I’ve packed my life into boxes and moved to a new “home” 14 times in 18 years. I’ve had addresses in three Provinces. I’ve had a marriage and a divorce, financial abundance and poverty, health and illness, love and a shattered heart, joy and profound sadness… What I’ve never had, not since leaving my childhood home: are roots… I have always felt un-tethered… on the outside looking in.
When I look at the amazing things I’ve been able to experience and the people I’ve spent time with, I am overwhelmed with the blessings I’ve known. Still… there is loneliness in a crowd. There’s wondering: “What’s it all about?” “What’s the point?”
Over the years I’ve been told, on many occasions: “I envy your life.” Perception is an interesting thing. Life is rarely what we believe it is. Those who’ve, “got it made,” are struggling along with the rest of us in one way or another. Not ONLY is the grass NOT greener on the other side… sometimes there’s not a single blade of grass over there. I’ve been broke and hungry, sweating the rent, wondering how the hell I would keep a roof over head for another month, when a message would come from someone who kindly expressed how inspired they are by me, how they envy my courage to live life on my own terms. These were the days, with head in hands, I thought, “if only you knew…” It is possible to feel like an absolute failure, while still inspiring others. Life is funny like that. Because I don’t choose to share every aspect of my life, people fill in the blanks based on what I do share. We all do it… we all perceive what WE believe, to be the truth. This definitely explains a lot about what’s wrong with humanity.
The world is in a terrible state of unrest. Conflict seems to be escalating hourly. Humans have perfected hatred and cruelty towards one another. I’m far from perfect. I make unhealthy choices. I respond emotionally, at times, yet, I don’t seek vengeance. My actions are never fostered by malicious intent. I have great regret when I’ve caused unintended pain: when I’ve been a disappointment to others and to myself. There are things I wish I’d handled differently; things I would do differently if I could. Though, there’s not much I would change. Time and choices make us who we are and I’m pretty happy with who I’ve become… flaws and all.
When I watch the ugliness unfold on the daily news I wonder, “What the hell are we doing?” There’s talk of it all ending. Different factions have different theories about when, why, and how life will be terminated on earth… frankly; I don’t put much stock in any of it. However, with the way things are going and… if ever a race had the capacity to blow themselves off of the face of a planet, it is definitely humans. So what does this leave me with? Well… a single thought: “If it were all to come to an end, am I where I want to be?” This doesn’t mean that I’m depressed or that I’ve given up hope. My mom always told me, “the minute we give up, we’re sunk.” I will always hold on to hope for a better world… even when I’m not sure of my place in it.
There are two famous quotes: “There’s no place like home.” & “You can never go home again.” For many years I believed the latter. Life is not static. When I visited home, it was never the same place… I was never the same person. It would be nice if home could be the perfect childhood memory, but it isn’t. I was sure I could NEVER go back to the small town I grew up in. “There’s nothing here for you,” people would say. I agreed wholeheartedly. I was supposed to conquer the world. Instead… I experienced a lot of things, in a lot of places, which I am ever grateful for. What I started to realize is: There is nothing out here either. Or rather, there is nothing but THINGS. There isn’t what matters most: HOME. My family is my home and they are far away.
In times of abundance I was able to get home once per year for a visit. Then, in leaner times, a year and a half would pass without seeing my mom, sister, nephews & friends. I suppose this would be fine if my they weren’t amazing people. I’ve spent 2 out of the last 18 Christmases with my mother, who I love dearly. I love Christmas and I hate the loneliness of Christmas.
I have spent a lot of time saying good-bye and missing people during my time on earth. Missing is a bittersweet blessing: We are fortunate to love, and be loved enough to miss, and be missed; yet, missing is a hollow, empty feeling that dulls but never really leaves us. I decided to say farewell to British Columbia and my surrogate family. There were tears… mostly mine… I will miss Kat, Bill and the kids, tremendously. I will miss my other western friends. I still miss all my loved ones in Toronto… Indeed, I am very fortunate.
There are times when we have to stand at the edge and stare into the abyss, to know how far we’ve come: to know what direction to go next. It’s important to be still… to listen to the silence for answers. I listened long and hard, and I knew it was time to go home to Prince Edward Island. It took almost two decades for me to realize that going home is not going backward, but returning to my roots… to my family… it is actually – moving forward.
I am not that twenty-something girl that left home all those years ago. I am a 42 year-old woman who is thankful to be going home.
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