Lately, India has been in my ether again.
You know how it is. Something, a memory, seeps into your days unnoticed, like saltwater in the ground beneath your feet that slowly, slowly soaks, unnoticed. At first just the tender soles of your feet, unnoticed, then quietly inching, unnoticed, until one day you awake to find yourself adrift in it.
And then you see them, signs of it everywhere, somehow, inextricably everywhere.
A conversation, a meal, a reminder, a photo album, a meeting, a film, all unconnected and innocent in themselves, but the awakening reveals a bright, shiny, continuous thread that is now spread around me and I am adrift in it.
Why is this coming back to me now, I wonder? After almost two decades of quiet living, most of which was in a dreamy Mother~Land, it has come back to find me. Maybe I am ready to greet it again?
And while that trip is a story to tell, I am arrested with wondering about where these memories fit into my life today, and it has me thinking.
As our older two seem to be racing towards flying the nest and the time to let them go is just beginning to peer over the horizon, I think about how my parents did this, The Letting Go, and how something that seems impossibly huge in the distance surprises you when it arrives all small and humble and perfectly reasonable.
For each of those steps our children take are exquisitely formed, and timed to perfection, if only we have the courage to see it, but often our own fear blinds us and we clutch, without even knowing it.
As our Eldest faces his first serious exams in a couple of months, I find myself in new territory as a mother, and in a way I find myself at a loss. Here now, is something we cannot do for him, or even hold his hand for, (indeed he doesn't want us to), and yet he really is not finding it easy. It brings back shuddering memories of my own school experience, and the reminder is, I have to say, rather uncomfortable.
This child of mine is standing alone, for the first time, and all the silences and deep thinking do not go misunderstood by me and his father. It is frightening. He hasn't got to the exciting bit yet, and it is overwhelming, but he will. And I remind myself of that. How fleeting this time just is!
We get through it anyway, don't we? All of it. And our feet take us onwards, no matter what. And we find ourselves in places that we could never have imagined, hearing stories we can hardly believe, and our young eyes are opened and we begin to truly see the world and understand what we want to both take from it, and give to it.
But only because it is our feet and our eyes. The advice and experience of our parents and teachers have hopefully been stored away as a map, a guide, for when we need it, but ultimately it only comes through our own experience.
So this is a little Note To Self: They'll be okay!
I look at these pictures, almost twenty years old, and faded, some of them, and I think of what this experience meant to me at the time. It meant something very different than what it means to me now.
For now I am on the other side of it and I understand that the true value of these experiences is the fact that we are figuring it out for ourselves. And I will do the Letting Go when the time comes, and it will be easier than I think now. Because it will be the Beginning for him.
The first line I wrote at the beginning of this, now I read back over it, may indeed be read as a corny cliché:
'I found myself'.
At least, I found the beginning of myself, of who I would eventually become. And don't we continue Becoming, for the rest of our lives? I hope so anyway.
Where did you find yourself? That Beginning Of You? Was it somewhere far away, or somewhere unexpectedly familiar, something intense or something surprisingly soft? Did you know at the time, or is it only hindsight and time that allow you to see it?
I truly would love to know.
And now I know my own answer I think I may be ready to go back.