I've thought a lot about your email.
I keep seeing a vision of a ship setting sail.
You're on the ship.
You're going to a new land but you stay at the back of the ship, not able to stop watching the land you're leaving.
It's getting further and further away but you continue to stand there.
Meanwhile, at the front of the ship, the others are watching with awe as the new land comes into sight. They aren't sure what's going to be there for them but they're excited about the adventure. On the way they see dolphins and sunrises and while they're marveling at these sights, they're talking about the future and becoming friends.
They talk about what they'd like to get from the new land and they know that once they leave the ship, they might never see each other again so they're relaxed and enjoying the companionship.
You're still at the back of the ship, in the shadows. Long after the sun has set and the old land has merged into the past, you're still watching for fear of forgetting its contours, its richness, the things you loved about it.
You've missed the dolphins. The sunrises. The chance to make new friends that you may or may not see again.
When everyone else gets off the ship, they'll be able to help each other but when you get off the ship, you'll feel disoriented and behind yourself.
Then you realise.
“I'm on this ship.
It’s not the ship I would've chosen but I can choose which way I face.
I could remain facing to the back, the past, trying to hold onto the memory of the distant beloved shore.
Or I could face forward and embrace the new landscape, developing a relationship with every inch it grows.
I could concentrate on what is going on around me and be available to whatever presents itself.
I'll never forget the old land. I can't. It is part of me but there will be parts of this new land that I'm sure to find a different kind of like for.”
I have to ask you J...
If your wife were still alive - which end of the ship would you be standing at together?
She may not be alive, but she is still with you and I suspect she would be much happier to see you at the front of the ship with the sun on your face and anticipation in your eyes...
Email to JH, 2003