Below are the early chapters in a book that I have been working on… (that has been working on me)….it is on the subject of Human identity from a spiritual perspective. I do have footnotes for all the quotes and references but haven’t included these at this point (they didn’t transfer when I cut and pasted the chapter to the blog-site).
I deeply appreciate specific feedback so please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the reply box below or by email directly.
Many Thanks, Liz.
‘One may understand the cosmos but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star’. G.K. Chesterton
‘For if I try to seize this self of which I feel sure, if i try to define and to summarise it, it is nothing but water slipping through my fingers… This very heart which is mine will forever remain in-definable to me’ Albert Camus
‘Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder ‘why why why?’ Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand’ Kurt Vonnegut
The force that hits you first is the blanket of heat and stench as it enfolds you in an inescapable embrace.
Calcutta, India. It was a dramatic place, full of everything… but mostly people.
My husband’s sister was tall and pale, with flaming red hair. No one could look more different, more out of place, like a strange apparition, someone from another world… and that is how she felt. She was eighteen and in search of herself. She had thought she might find herself in Kalighat, at Mother Theresa’s home for the dying. She had read about the Sisters of Charity in a book and been impressed by their commitment and love. It seemed so meaningful and real after British public school life. But the smooth, evenly lined pages of a book rarely capture the grit and grind of reality.
For three long months she volunteered at the Home for the Dying and every day another chip from her idealised world fell away. There was more grit and less love than she had expected, more grind and less gentleness. Caring was a luxury long forgotten by many at Kalighat, it takes too much energy in a world lined with death. ‘No one must die alone’ was Mother Theresa’s gentle war cry, and they didn’t die alone…. but they did die, Frequently. In fact death was a regular visitor at Kalighat, weaving itself stealthily into every week, just when you were beginning to forget, just when you were beginning to hope you could save them, just this once, if you worked hard enough, if you cared hard enough. But caring takes energy in a world lined with death.
Emotional tiredness met physical tiredness and then in her last months she contracted Malaria. She spent the days lying in bed, in and out of feverish sleep, the unfamiliar sounds from the street outside mingling with her dreams, her nightmares. In those moments between waking and sleeping when the whole world was strange and her whole life a dull aching fever, she had longed for the comfort of home, her family around her, the familiar tones of her mothers voice…
The gentle sound of the train now reminded her of home, if she closed her eyes perhaps she could imagine she was home, whizzing through the green English country side; but the smell and heat never left, and as soon as she opened her eyes she was back again, an alien in a strange and beautiful land. A beautiful land full of beautiful people clambering on top of each other to survive. This land whirled past her now as the train raced through carrying her away from Kalighat, away from the death, away from the disillusionment. Her destination: Agra.
Agra: The place where her grandmother had grown up, the place of all the delightful stories of mangos and hairy pigs made from fruit pits and all the trappings of a privileged Indian childhood. Agra: The place where all those decades ago her grandmother had been the strange one, the child with pale skin and golden hair, the apparition from another world.
Her station finally emerged from the passing scenery and the train lurched to a stop. Finding a taxi she continued her journey to the school her great grandfather had established. As she travelled through the streets she felt the eyes of passers by watching her through the taxi windows. It’s amazing how fascinating you become in a foreign country. Similarly amazing is how quickly your ‘celebrity’ status grows wearing, as a constant reminder in your ears whispering ‘you don’t belong’, ’you’re not from here’, ‘you’re different’. Different.
Finally she found herself before the steps of the school. She was welcomed by the Principal who was keen to show her around the grounds. He remembered both her great grandfather and her grandmother as his own father had worked at the school when he was young.
Finally the principal led her into the main hall where grand paintings lined the walls.
She gasped as she looked up. On the wall in front of her was a painting of her great grandfather. She had never met him, so he should have been a stranger to her, but instantly, in the time it took for her heart to jump and her breathe to draw in, she knew him. In his eyes, his face she recognised herself, herself and her whole world; her mothers eyes, her uncles eyes, her grandmothers eyes… all of them at once there, present in one face. Home.
Relief washed over her like a warm embrace, a coffee on a cold day, the reassuring laugh of a familiar friend; Home.
She had come to India in search of herself, and over the past months had felt so lost… In that moment she found herself face to face, not just with a painting, but somehow with herself. She was home, not home to a country, not home to a house, but home to herself.
No longer lost… but found.
The gentle roll of the plane wheels increase, the engine moves from a hum to a roar thrusting us forward in diagonal ascent. Nothing between me and the ground now… just air. Perhaps it should feel more familiar up here above the ground, feet planted nowhere. Fifteen hours on a flight feels like a very long time. But five years, that feels much longer. Five years away from my home country Australia, five years away from my family living there, five years away from the culture I grew up in, five years away from home. Now only fifteen hours lay between me and this place. Home? Would it still be home? Will I still belong there? Did I ever?
As each hour passes I wonder, am I growing closer to myself or further away? As the plane covers miles am I also covering the distance between my soul and my psyche? My heart and mind? Will I reach myself at the end of this journey?
But let me introduce myself. My name is Liz. I currently live in Jamaica. I am Australian by birth and moved here when I married my British husband who had been here previously for many years. Though I love Jamaica deeply, living in this culture I never fully feel at home. I am from ‘foreign’ (as it is termed in Jamaican Patois) and in a thousand subtle ways I am unable to forget this.
I have lived as a foreigner in my own ‘foreign’ on and off for over 15 years of my life. Foreign. Strange. Different. A place I don’t belong. I am the stranger in the strange places. ‘Who am I?’ ‘Where do I belong?’ I wonder, and though my wondering is felt more acutely on this journey, I know it is not born of it. I have asked these questions before (before I ever left Australia’s shores) and I know I will again, because I am a human being, and this is our mantra, we human beings; Who am !? Why am I here? What is this all about? All of us wondering wanderers whether we ever leave our own shores or not.
My children sit beside me on the plane playing the inflight video games, watching movies.
They are accustomed to this, the life lived over oceans, between two worlds, belonging nowhere. “Mummy, I’m born in Jamaica, so why aren’t I black?” Oliver asked a week ago. Who is he, when one of his small feet is in Jamaica and the other somewhere between the UK and Australia? There’s even a name for this existence; Third culture existence. They don’t belong in my homeland and they don’t belong in the land of their own birth, Jamaica. They are of a third culture… a culture that will always be partly familiar and partly foreign.
But doesn’t this sound strangely familiar to us all? My family’ s life between cultures is specific to our experience, but we as the species Homo Sapiens share a profound common experience of a life between, between something we struggle to even name; We belong and yet we don’t belong. Always slightly unsettled, in shoes that don’t quite fit and an identity that hangs all too loose around our frames, we humans are to some extent part of this third culture. One foot in the familiar trappings of our identity and one foot firmly planted nowhere, kicking, flailing trying to find the ground, wrestling with questions and unsettled wonderings. Different; That’s what we are. Somehow we humans just don’t quite fit in. We are unlike anything else around us. We see reflections of ourselves everywhere, and yet find ourselves nowhere.
If you take just bugs out of this world within ten years it would be destroyed, take us out and it would thrive and regenerate. The hummingbird is in symbiosis with the flower, the wasps with the trees, but we, where do we belong?
Social psychologist and psychoanalyst Eric Fromm called us all Freaks, writing that ‘Man is born as a freak of nature, being within nature and yet transcending it.’ Though I don’t like to feel like a freak, this bell of truth rings in my ears. We human beings stick out like a sore thumb in the universe, our needs are larger than our home, our desires extend beyond the material and as we reach for them we leave a bizarre mix of both creation and destruction in our wake. Like strange apparitions, we are in this world but partially not of it, our psychological and spiritual ecosystem extends into another realm; the bewildering world of mind, of consciousness, of will, of spirit. None of these words quite contains our difference, adding yet to the exasperation of our condition.
I look out of the window of the plane. Clouds float suspended on their invisible threads. Beneath me stretches vast unending depths of ocean. Does land still exist even when we no longer see it?
My journey over seas mirrors my journey within. On this journey, this search for what it means to be human, I find myself swimming in a sea of questions. ‘Who am I?’ and ’What does it mean to be human?’ is not an isolated question it seems, but the tip of an iceberg, an iceberg floating in an ocean of wonderings. This ocean of wonderings lies beneath the surface of our existence like a vast unfathomable depth; Who are we? Why do we exist? What does it mean to be human? Are we magic or mud? Are we angels or apes? How are we all so much mystery mixed with so much gristle and bone?
These questions of our existence have hung around us for as long as we have known ourselves to be human… not knowing what it means to be human. So many poems, philosophies, song lyrics, documentaries, magazine articles and movies are reaching for and wrestling with this question… to be able to say ’there is the human being’, ‘this is who we are’ . Like a song which haunts our heads but with words that constantly elude us, we wonder, always wonder who we are, why we’re here and what the lyrics are; the words that would make it all make sense.
Erich Fromm said ‘Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.’
We recently had a pet hermit crab. I was surprised at the affection I felt towards it. I think it appreciated the carrot peel I gave it, but apart from that our relationship turned out a little one-sided. Hermie doesn’t have any existential angst.
I think I envy him that. His instincts seem to guide him. He eats, he climbs, he sleeps, he hides. He doesn’t stop and consider ‘Who am I? What is the purpose of all this? What does it mean to be a hermit crab?’ Decapod crustaceans don’t suffer existential angst. In fact there is no evidence that animals consider their existence in this way at all. Our curse of consciousness is all ours and ours alone, a uniquely human condition.
“A cow is always simply a cow.” writes Theologian Jurgen Moltmann, “It does not ask, “What is a cow? Who am I?” Only man asks such questions, and indeed clearly has to ask them about himself and his being. This is his question.’
This is our question. We have to ask it. But why? Why do we have to ask why? Why can’t we just get over ourselves and get on with living just as Hermie does? The part of us that is somehow beyond instincts, doesn’t allow us to be satisfied solely by instincts. More; Why do we hunger for more? Another question. Is this clanging cacophony of questions a pied pipers call, or the song of my deepest self?
David G Benner names it, ‘Within each of us is an unquenchable fire, a restlessness that renders us incapable of ever coming to full peace in this life. Our longings will always be larger and more persistent than our satisfactions. They gnaw at the edges of consciousness and are an ever-present reminder that, to paraphrase Plato, “We are fired into life with a madness that comes from the gods and which would have us believe that we can have a great love, perpetuate our own seed, and contemplate the divine.”This madness will not let us rest. It propels us forward—eternally seeking, longing, hungering, questing, desiring, and dreaming….
…It is a quest that we know is essential to our well-being, sometimes even to our very life. Yet what we find never quite fulfils the longing that drives the quest, and the unquenchable fire leaves us with a constantly restless heart.’
My restless heart. looks out over the oceans. They go on forever. Do I? Or just the questions that I’m plagued by? This flight feels like forever.
Finally the nose of the plane tilts downward. I breath deep in the decent.
A brown and gold haze emerges below, blue black waterways weave through swathes of Sydney suburbs, a harbour bridge, the tumbling sprawl of streets and lives. All breadcrumb signposts welcoming me home. Am I home?
We go through border control with forms filled out and passports ready. Names, dates, photos, details. All the information they need to tell them who I am. Can they tell me who I am?
We transit in Sydney before the last leg of our journey. I sit in the airport lounge waiting for our connecting flight, waiting for the moment I will feel connection with this place. The moment when I feel at home. I stare in wide-eyed wonder at all the Australians around me. Am I one of these people? Their accents so familiar, so strangely un-strange. I can’t help staring. They all look so white and pink and sun burned.
In the transit lounge there is an information booth and a map. ‘You are here’ it says.
Where? Where am I? If only I could find a map like this for life. Maybe then I’d know where I stood. How nice it would be if someone would just point out the answers for us, exclaim and say “Look, there is the human being, and there is what its all about; life as a human being. This is who you are and this is why you’re here. This is the real you, the real you inside that gets smothered with so many other inner arguments, inner voices, the real you; the person that finds it hard to find its feet in a world that is committed to turning you inside out into a machine, a commodity, a product for sale; This is who you are, this is the human being!”.
Where? Where? I turn my head to look and immediately I miss it, it passes in the corner of my eye, just beyond my gaze, lost in a blur of information, questions and confusion.
I sit in the transit lounge, waiting. My children wander within eye contact, always on an imagined adventure. I watch them play sometimes, so free, so full of confidence in life. They know they don’t have the answers to very much so somehow they are free from the fear they will not find them. Children are undaunted by their wonderings, curiosity is a delightful game, a hunt for buried treasure. If you spend any time with a four year old you will soon discover that one of the most frequent replies in any interaction (whether talking about the sky being blue, people having noses or the existence of peanut butter) is a wide-eyed wondering ‘Why?’. The why doesn’t haunt them, but it is always with them.
Life and education give us many answers to many of these questions (including the mystery of noses and peanut butter), but our existential questions remain in rising and falling whispers throughout our lives. And somehow there comes point when the awe becomes awful, when we stop enjoying the search and start fearing the unknown in our souls.
Yet the strange thing is, we already have so many answers, we hoard them like bower birds, piling them up in our encyclopaedias and internet browsers. We have so much figured out, so many answers right there at our fingertips.
My daughter Zoe is eleven. A case could be put that any first year medical student or biology major would know more about my daughter than I do. They could possibly tell me about the make up of her genes, her DNA and her cells and they could describe in detail her physiological systems, even perhaps her psychological tendencies. They could probably fill an entire textbook with information about my daughter, give her a thousand labels to wear. But would these labels capture who she is?
With all this information, would they know her? And if they read this information back to her would they help her know herself?
In this day and age we now have access to more information about ourselves than any other time in human history, yet the more we know, the more confusing the questions seem to become. As T.S. Eliot wrote ‘Where is all the knowledge we lost with information?’
I browse in the transit lounge book shops.
We sell to each other the promise of a happier life, a life reset, a life upgrade, the discovery of the real us, the happy us, the us we long to be but struggle to find. But is it just the blind leading the blind I wonder? None of these answers seem to satisfy. Is there a whole industry in the dissatisfaction of our souls? Are we consumers because we are consumed with the filling of an unfillable void? A supernova vacuum?
Our human questions are not just scientific or philosophical, they are deeply personal, like a song in our hearts calling us forward…forward…but to where? I remember my best friend at university in bewilderment recounting a conversation she had had with the class ‘jock’ (the good looking guy that had everything together and all the girls secretly swooned for). They had been in the computer lab and struck up a conversation which eventually led him to disclose to her the words “sometimes i feel like I have a big black hole in side of me… empty”. Speechless, she had no words to fill that void. That void we humans all stumble across at some point within ourselves, the abyss that we hide, ignore, shrink from or throw consumer goods at. The void that searches for the insatiable ‘Who am I?’, ‘What does it mean?’, ’What am I here for?’
UK researcher David Hay saw this and he listened. He designed an exercise to torment us into listening to ourselves.
‘I sometimes used a very simple exercise with students to help them to explore the question of identity. I invited them to form pairs and take it in turn to ask their partner repeatedly, ‘who are you?’ . The early responses to the question are usually cliches to do with social attribution and positioning. ‘I’m David Hay’, ‘I’m a Scotsman’, ‘I’m a married man with three sons’, ‘I’m a zoologist’ etc. After a while the attributions dry up and there is a silence, a period of boredom, and (if the person is prepared to persist) a move into a deeper and more puzzling territory. After all, who is this nameless naked body that by an accident of history is given a name, a nationality, a social position, and a covering of clothing? It is typical of the ‘who are you?’ exercise that it is moving to the participants, quite often leading them to weep at what they experience as the profound strangeness of the human condition. They weep because they are entering existential depths shared by every human being’.
Existential depths. Oceans of ‘Who am I?’, seas of ‘What is this all about?’.
Swimming in these depths our equilibrium flails so we find ourselves treading water on the surface, pretending the surface is all there is, pretending all is well, distracting ourselves with shopping, movies, games, substances, relationships, noise…anything.… anything but the questions underneath everything. Because white-noise-static is easier to sleep with than unanswered questions. We push the whispering waves of questions away…down, down into the abyss of our subconscious souls. Out of sight, out of mind. We pretend it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Chanting this mantra we replace wondering with wandering. Wandering through shopping centres, TV shows and video games, wandering on Facebook, YouTube or Ebay.
I have spent hours wandering through movies, looking for myself in the eyes, meandering aimlessly around shopping malls in search of myself in the sales. Am I searching or hiding? Reaching or avoiding? I was never quite sure.
Does anyone have a special offer on a soul? A 50% off deal on life’s biggest answers?
I’ll just take the red shoes thanks.
The more I have read about our human need for meaning and identity the more I have found strange comfort in discovering that I am not alone in my search for these things. Feeling at times like a stranger to myself is actually what makes me normal, not what makes me strange. Wondering is not just a game wealthy westerners play when they are bored and lonely. The ‘Who am I?’ and ’Why?’ stretches beyond borders and cultures. We may have different words to describe it or habits to hide it but as long as we are human we are somehow programmed to wonder, to wonder who we are and why; Why on earth we are here on earth!
Charles Handy saw it in Africa. There they name it like a thumb tac on a map,
‘In Africa they say there are two hungers, the lesser hunger and the greater hunger. The lesser hunger is for the things that can sustain life, the goods and services, and the money to pay for them, which we all need. The greater hunger is for an answer to the question ‘Why?’, for some understanding of what life is for. In the capitalist societies, however, it has been our comfortable assumption, so far, that we can best satisfy the greater hunger by appeasing the lesser hunger.’
Ouch! The pin draws blood, pricking my Western consciousness. My comfortable assumption that fast food would satisfy my need for real nutrition falls clanging to the ground.
‘…Maybe, however, the greater hunger is not just an extension of the lesser hunger, but something completely different.’ Something completely different. But what then?
I wait in the transit lounge. Wait for my flight to take me to myself. Will it be there that I will find this something completely different?
But for all our moments of angst, we are not always wondering we human beings. Our questions come and go throughout our lives like tides rising bringing with them waves of confusion and uncertainty, and then receding, leaving us in peace for a season.
In these peaceful seasons we begin to feel we know where we are going, everything falls into place, our goals stretch before us and life falls in line, we wonder why we ever wondered, why we ever questioned the meaning and purpose of our existence. These seasons can last so long that we forget the questions mattered. Or sometimes they whisper so faintly they don’t bother us at all, like a momentary wondering wistfulness or the occasional passing fear.
I board our next flight.
The blue of Bass Straight whirls beneath me and the patches of clouds clot against the sky. There is more turbulence on this flight than on the last one. I make sure my belt is fastened and check the children’s are also. They are oblivious to the bumps. I wish I was.
Just when we find our feet in this world, that is when the questions bite us. Then comes the quiet creeping crash, our questions crescendo into a turbulent crisis of identity. Unanswered questions ambush our thoughts and empty us of our self constructed meanings. Our consciousness self-sabotages our ego-equilibrium in small whisperings of dissonance, a melody gone wrong; ’You are more’, ’your’e for more’, ‘you want more’, ’there must be more’… more, more, more.
Dissonance; A song that makes no sense, has no harmony, brings no peace. Humming this misshapen melody we may even burn out; Not because we burned up our time, working too long and too hard, but because we have burned up ourselves, working too long and too hard for a song that makes no sense.
We can no longer tread water when the waves of questions wash over us and pull us down, down, down…into the depths of ourselves. And I wonder… am I drowning in my own soul, or in the absence of it?
I look down. It’s a long way down, down to the depths of the sea.
Psychologists will tell us that this rising and falling of questions, though disconcerting is actually a part of the cycle of our lives, revisiting us in different phases in different forms. Eric Erickson, the German psychoanalyst who first coined the phrase ‘identity crisis’ and developed one of the most influential and popular theories of human social development, believed that we human beings pass through different phases throughout our lives and in each phase we face a challenge to grow and in some cases a crisis of identity.
My son is now fast asleep in the seat beside me. Still so small. The plane lifts and falls in gentle turbulence again. I check once more that his seat belt is fastened.
At his young age the ‘who am I?’ questions are answered before he asks them by those around him, by us, his parents. For all of us our formative years form and mould us, like clay. We are shaped and reshaped by every word, every experience, every bruise, every joy. As children we tend to accept the status quo in our relationships and trust the view significant others reflect back to us whether it is positive or negative, true or false. But to remain in this place of blind dependence long term would be stunting. So we don’t. We discover the seas of our un-navigated self and begin wrestling with the waves of our consciousness.
The oceans drag us into ourselves first in early adolescence. In our teen age years and early twenties we search for our identity, desperately trying to fit in, stand out, stand up for something (as long as its not what our parents stood for!). We try on the identities of others, emulating fashions, fads, people and personas we admire in the hope that becoming them we will learn to become ourselves.
I think back to the fashions I wore in my adolescence, the views I spouted, the things I did. I sigh and rub my forehead. The plane bumps again in turbulence.
‘A key question people ask themselves as they move through adolescence is “Who am I?” The great developmental psychologist Erik Erickson believed that the role of adolescence is to answer this question and become secure in one’s identity.’ so says Dr. Kathryn Stamoulis. She and Erik Erickson name the aim of the game; to become ‘secure in ones identity’. But what are the rules of the game? And how do we play it? Where does this security meet us if our questions never leave us?
And just when we figure out the rules of this game in adolescence the next wave hits us as we enter the 25-35 age bracket. No longer able to blame our angst on adolescence we have found a new label to wear; the ’quarter-life crisis’.
‘Many young adults are experiencing a “quarterlife crisis”, according to new research by British psychologists. Bearing all the hallmarks of the midlife crisis, this phenomenon – characterised by insecurities, disappointments, loneliness and depression – is hitting twenty- and thirtysomethings shortly after they enter the “real world”.
After we enter the ‘real world’.
I look out at the real world below all blue and unendingly vast. What is real if so much of our inner reality is coloured by unanswered questions? turbulent emotions?
If we manage to escape the undertow of the quarter life crisis we may then be pulled under by the dumping waves of a ‘Thrisis’ soon after; a thirty-something crisis where many of us question the meaningfulness of the life we are living, the daily grind of whatever our chosen career path has been.
Researchers in the UK listened to two thousand people’s souls, and found rather than the 35-44 year old age bracket being a period of confidence in a meaningful connected existence, instead there was the beating heart of despair. This age bracket in fact felt more lonely and depressed about life than any other.
“Traditionally we associated the mid-life crisis with people in their late 40s to 50s, but the report reveals that this period could be reaching people earlier than we would expect.”
If we manage to make it through the rocky weather of our twenties, thirties and forties without a crisis, we find ourselves in our forties and fifties facing the potential tsunami of the traditional mid life crisis which can haunt us for between two and ten years. Has our life added up? Did it mean anything? Have we lived the life we were born to live? Or were we just biding time? Who are we? Why are we here?
And then again as we head towards retirement we look back on all we have stood for and wonder if it meant something… wonder if it meant anything.
You get the picture; wondering ‘who am I and what the heck is this all about?’ in big ways or small is it seems a very normal part of the ebb and flow of human life. Because it feels so unsettling and an awful lot like being lost, we assume that something must be wrong with us. It can’t be right to live with so much angst, to live with our feet planted nowhere and dissonance clanging in our ears.
Yet, what if this is not actually true? What if we feel lost because we are? What if our crisis moments, our crescendo of questions are not part of what is wrong with us, but what is right with us? What if the questions are not a curse, but a quest, and what if this quest (our search for ourselves and our ‘why?’) isn’t a genetic mutation, or a pastime when we’re bored and lonely, but the core of who we are, searching for expression? What if our questions are our humanity, or at least the bread crumbs to follow to find it?
Erika Harris names it clear as a moonless night ‘It is good to feel lost… because it proves you have a navigational sense of where “Home” is. You know that a place that feels like being found exists. And maybe your current location isn’t that place but, Hallelujah, that unsettled, uneasy feeling of lost-ness just brought you closer to it’. On the darkest nights away from city haze the stars are piercingly clear.
It is only in feeling lost that we discover how to be found; In feeling like we must search for our identity and purpose that we have the chance of finding them. Avoiding this quest is only avoiding ourselves.
Henry David Thoreau said it ‘Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves’.
Could it be that our dissonance is not a song that makes no sense, but the song that leads us home to ourselves so that we can one day stand upon the shore, looking out undaunted at the ocean of our souls, knowing the words to the tune, the notes to the song; the song of who we are; the song of what it means to be human.
The nose of the plane descends, buffeted by winds and whirls. I grasp the arm rest and check the children’s seat belts yet again. I feel the whir of the wheels unwinding somewhere beneath us. We hit the ground, thudding awkwardly onto the runway.
The doors open and we emerge. We walk across the tarmac, wind whipping us welcome.
And then there it is, delivered on the breeze, the fragrance, the scent of all my childhood days; Eucalyptus and wattle and warmth and memory wrapping me close in welcome embrace. The scent draws out memories just beyond my reach like light pressing through curtain-drawn windows, felt but not clearly seen. I am home.
My heart skips, thrilling at the thought. But then, almost in the same beat, another knowing comes from somewhere underneath, somewhere in the depths of me.
Home. I am home to the places of my past, but home is not a location. Home is a journey to our centred core. I am not yet home to myself.
A sigh rises, not in grief, but knowing. I know I am in good company at least. The company of human beings, all of us weary wondering wanderers.
And we long for that day, the day when all the questions find answers, when all the world makes sense, when, like a warm embrace, a coffee on a cold day and the reassuring laugh of a familiar friend, all the loneliness dissipates and we find ourselves, standing, face to face with who we really are; breathing a sigh of relief as we finally recognise deeply the person staring back at us in the mirror.
No longer lost, but found.