Re entry

In a comment on the blog Aggie remarked that she hoped my re entry would be gentle.

It was a perceptive comment from someone who knows. I had only been away 13 days but I have found returning very difficult. Not because I wasn’t pleased to see everyone and see how the little legs had changed in just a fortnight, but because when you’re walking everything is simple.

Helen speaks of enjoying the ‘pared – downness’ of walking. She means in a physical sense. We don’t carry a stove but given the dearth of amenities we might next time: I’ve already begun looking. But we carry everything else that we need. We sleep in basic accommodation mostly and while we might groan and quibble, that’s not really an issue. The simplicity of the thing is part of its attraction.

I went to book group on Thursday and a friend had come back from Skiathos looking tanned and relaxed and having read ten books in a fortnight. She rested in the sun and swam and ate nice food and had a lovely time with her husband. I like that too but I also like the exertion of walking and the process of getting away from my thoughts, allowing my mind to roam and wander. If I am lying on a sunbed I am still turning thoughts over in my mind.

Also when you’re away and unavailable and maybe doing what is considered a hard thing, there is nothing you can do about the problems that beset people at home. Really, there is nothing. Things carry on without you and mostly, people find their own solutions. If you are like me, you’re pretty good with coming up with solutions and answers to questions which haven’t even been asked yet. Often people just want to talk, to share their day to day burdens. They are not looking for my input. So why give it so much of my brain time? I have a friend who repeats to herself over such things, ‘There is nothing I can do about this.’

It sounds like a cop out but it’s true.

And it gets worse.

Years ago there was a programme called Brat Camp where unruly, addicted, often violent teenagers were sent abroad to the USA to learn some life skills. It was an example of tough love. Sometimes they were alone in a host family, sometimes with other troublesome teens on a hike or camp. One memorable episode involved a young man who bloomed on the programme. He loved the outdoor life and learning new skills. He became very good at making fire from scratch. So much so that he helped his fellow campers in their efforts, to the point of doing it for them. The leaders took him aside and gently pointed out that by doing so he deprived them of the opportunity of learning. So true. And yet I do it. I see others do it.

So when I go away, I am away and cannot ‘help’ or ‘mend a life’ yet, somehow life goes on. I might hear of a dilemma but a solution is found. They find another way. Not my way but theirs. And I am not there to make suggestions or judge the outcome. Glory be. So as a compassionate person, can I bring that loving detachment back with me? I don’t know. I will try.

No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Without me. Mine is the only life I can save. Time for Mary Oliver.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognised as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver

Same old same old. Sue will understand 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Re entry

  1. it is always, always the right time for Mary Oliver. that particular poem has been a significant part of my own path.

    wishing you a peaceful and compassionate walk along the familiar roads and byways of home.

  2. I was right for the wrong reason, lol. My worst case of re entry came after a 19 day mountain wilderness backpack. Driving back into civilization was an ugly shock, the stores full of brightly colored items the worst of it. That was years ago, and I still eat mostly with a single bowl and spoon and sleep on a futon on the floor. The happy ending is that I finally moved to the country.

    Your last line about the universe unfolding sounds like a wonderful mantra. I will try it too. The poem sounds as if it were written just for you. I am happy to know it now. Cheers.

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