It seems that some of us are always trying to find our figurative home. Maybe for others, they always feel at home.
I had written in my memoir, Under the Birch Tree, about making connections and discovering my self. I wondered if my discoveries would continue though my story had come to an end with the publication of my book.
One thing I learned from writing my memoir is that finding home can be more like a moving target where we stray, we come back around to aim high or low or circumnavigate in every attempt to hit a bullseye.
My husband had a health scare three weeks before Christmas. One early morning he visited his doctor and by late evening he was a hospital patient. He is fine and luckily things weren’t as bad as they could have been. But this is one event that connected me to a bullseye.
I sat with my husband for hours of that day, accompanying him from room to room, first to the emergency room, then to his hospital room, as if each room would get us closer to understanding, to his healing. I waited when he was wheeled out on a gurney for tests to two hours later only to be retrieved for more testing. It was the waiting, the back and forth, when my wandering mind was forced to sit and to be idle. I could only refer to a wall clock, noting the hour of the day and every minute of the hour as it passed.
When given idle time, rarely granted for most, our mind’s dialogue finds it difficult to be in a silent pause, a slipping into neutral.
My normal routine echoes “where did this day go,” but that day moved painfully slow as the holiday tasks, previously balanced among the remaining days of the year, weighed heavy on my mind.
I left the hospital late that evening and stopped to pick up Chinese food for dinner on my way home. I sat at my kitchen table hurriedly eating Kung Pao chicken as if it was my last meal. A welcomed deep breath jump started a mindful awareness. What was I doing? This setback had caused me to remap our holiday preparation. I was rushed, re-planning, re-organizing, re-implementing as if on an automatic pilot because my husband’s overnight hospital stay was not part of the plan. I was forced to stop and to think about what had really happened.
I returned to the hospital the next morning aware of how I spent the previous day, eyes gravitating to a clock, watching the passing of time in slower moments; I was forced to see time in the present. With my eyes physically affixed to a clock, I was called out to let go of planning time in the future and to be truly present with every ticking moment.
I understand how difficult it can be to not live in time yet to come. And sometimes it takes a conscious act of stillness, of gazing at clock hands ticking rhythmically passing time, to learn to be truly present with yourself and with others.
My story of connection and self-discoveries did not end with my memoir’s publication. I’ll continue to focus my attention on the bullseye of living presently.
Self-presence is being at home.