The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
~ William Stafford ~
Someone dear to me said at the beginning of my journey that this poem had reminded him of me. Nearly a year ago I left home in pursuit of experiences that I hoped would change me, would reveal my true self. Would make me a legitimate person. Whole. Nearly a year ago I left not knowing that this was my true intent, all I knew was that I was following a thread, even being tugged at times, and I couldn’t let go.
I disembarked on a trip that would take me to three continents and six countries. I officially attended school in half of them, but the truth is that the best learning I did happened outside of the classrooms. I could tell you like a good tourist that I met people and saw places, but that’s not true. I wasn’t a tourist. I was a traveler. I came to know people and to feel places. Through long stares, cultural gestures, the languages, the accents, secrets of hidden things, whispers on the wind, and the smells of sunrise and sunset I experienced. I came to know.
I fell in love with every place I went. Of course, there are places, the accumulation of the location, the people, the food, the animals, the atmosphere, that captured larger holds on my heart, but even the smallest of marks were made by all. That is one of the beauties about hearts- they are endless. Always growing larger and larger as you need them to, expanding with the laughing names of new friends, the song of a scene, and warmth of a land. I fell in love with the people and animals of East Africa, the breathtaking landscapes of Australia, and the laid back nature-loving atmosphere of New Zealand. But most importantly, I fell into love with my home.
It’s strange how you can come to learn only certain things about a person or a place in their absence. I held onto a string nearly a year ago and it took me almost as far from home as earthly possible. I am holding onto that string now and realize that it leads in a circle- straight back to where I started. I am so ready to go back there. I’ve fallen in love with the smallest details that I had taken for granted. I have learned that there really is no place like home. People will tell you that home is where the heart is, and it’s true that home can be nowhere without the people you love, but it’s also about the place. There is no place like Colorado. The people and the location make it the place that holds the largest space in my heart.
I left home nearly a year ago. I left my friends, my family, my land. It was the most selfish thing I have ever done. I didn’t realize until I had been absent how important it is to be there for the good moments and the bad in the lives of those you love. Unfortunately, to find oneself is a very selfish thing, and even worse, they supported me. Not once did any of them hold it against me, but pushed me on with their encouragement. Even without knowing why I did it, they bade me never let go the string. And I never did. So here I am now. Near the end of my journey. I am looking back at the future- a contradiction, I know. But when your timeline is a circle, you end up staring at what you had glanced over your shoulder at in the beginning. I found myself on my journey- I found that I am me, all of me, because of my home. I am defined by the labyrinth of people and places I love and where they intersect, there I am. And I know now that no matter how far and wide this string I hold will lead me, as it certainly will lead me off again in the future, it will always circle back home.