Have you ever had to deal with nostalgia so deep you can hardly breathe?
We were traveling to our old home place when it hit me. Familiar names, amazing names the uninitiated might not be able to pronounce, names I learned as a child and still remember, the pronunciation rolling off the tongue like warm water from a fountain, forcing memories of long ago tornado reports from the radio in our basement.
Abandoned stores built of local stone with “Support Our Troops” graffitied onto the windows, old home places with enormous cedar trees gracing the front lawns, highways with at least two “runaway truck ramps” where the mighty semi drivers can stall out in an enormous sand pit, broom sedge hills, scrub oaks, falling rock, and mind-boggling vistas dotted with mansions mingling in wide-open skies with humble cottages—all vied for my eyes and my memories.
And my heart.
I came from a land defined by indefinable beauty, of Ozarks and rolling-hill farmland, to a land of clay, closed in by pines, three inches below sea level, with French laws and language. I had to reacclimate and it took me a few years. Eventually we moved once more to a simple, frank, and industrious people who don’t mind drawing a person in, where I again, could see the sun and grow a garden.
And I, too, put down roots.
Now, every trip to my motherland reminds me of other things, things I left behind, things not good, painful things, and with nostalgia comes a depression that also feels familiar, welcoming, comforting.
Hello, darkness, my old friend…
The revisiting of abandoned pain is dangerous.
I mean, you are free. Why test the weight of what you laid down? To see if you could still carry it, if need arose? You could. Too see if it still would hurt? It would. And laying it down again would hurt, too. Again.
So those who declare you can never go home again are wrong, in a way.
You can go, but it hurts. Home changes. People rise or fall—won’t be where you left them, where you remember them, although they inhabit the same amazing home you see (in your memory) every day.
They don’t appreciate it like you do. And that is because they still see it every day but you only fantasize it. And because they do not miss it and you do.
Don’t it always seem to go: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?
So, in my travels, I migrate from the exterior to the interior when the outside changes too much. I rest from trying to comprehend when insanity spills into my path. Don’t you? We withdraw, right?
I instantly notice: The incomprehensible fades into the cosmos without assistance from me. I simply lower the blinds, close the curtains, for a few days, in my mind, and voilà, the trouble, the interruption, has flown away, has been replaced by something new.
When we open up again, we are older; we awaken to a world where certain things do not matter anymore. Until they do, again.
So when we mature, when we realize which issues are devoid of substance, and when we gel—when the glue dries—we can relax, right? The stupidity has settled to the bottom like boulders, and the clean sand and pure water of wisdom has risen to a peaceful lake at the top for the viewing pleasure of all. You can drink of these crystal waters, dispense the wisdom even to friends and acquaintances.
Yes, they can reach inside with one hand while reaching out with the other, sharing from the depths of this lovely, rock-bottomed pool. It’s so good, so handy, so fresh, so fun . . . .
And earthquakes can happen.
The water can muddy, the walls break down, exposing the bad rock.
How? Do you ask?
Old age is how. Laxness. Forgetfulness. Memory loss. Senility. Alzheimer’s.
You begin slipping. Learned skills fade. Taboos crumble away.
Yes. Taboos will be one of the last things to go. All the social niceties your mama taught you will diminish. All the sweet honeychile scripted sayings you always said but did not mean will desert you.
All that will remain is your true personality, your soul. What your family will see, then, is whatever you are now, when you think no one is looking.
Because by then you will not realize anyone is looking.
A speaker tells of an elderly Christian couple who shared life all of their adult years and had retired to a retirement home, both suffering with the extreme forgetfulness of extreme age. Actually rather unaware of time or other boundaries, the two walked or sat, talking together all of every day, words that few could make sense of. Staff, observing them carefully, for their safety’s sake, noticed they never had a cross word, never showed any sign of depression or bitterness, and never seemed to grasp the reality around them. At an age when most elderly are painfully crippled by a difficult past life, these two shone like a beacon, their past safe in their weakness, locked in the bottomless well of forgiveness.
So, what are you? What will they see when you no longer have the ability to hide it? Sweet? Bitter? Angry? Forgiving?
Get with God. The One Who gave you a soul can fill you with His Pillar of Fire and purify and keep your soul.
Until your final day.