Sometimes I wake in the early hours with a cold knot of panic lodged firmly in my upper abdomen. Am I making a huge mistake with the house I’m about to buy? Is this really what I want?
The village where my parents live is a kind of paradise. I grew up here from around the age of fourteen and it’s where I’ve stayed whenever there has been a gap in my living arrangements, as there is now.
It’s a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there are protected Sites of Special Scientific Interest, there’s a huge protected reserve owned by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and a great deal of land is owned by the National Trust or Natural England. It’s on a beautiful stretch of coastline, there are glorious woodlands to wander in and there’s even a lake.
Soon, I will lift myself up out of this place and plonk myself back down in a new place. I’ll go from Lancashire to Cumbria. Will I still be a Lancashire lass? Or a West Cumbrian lass? Or will I be a bit of both, or neither?
The land here has held me since my teenage years and for every mood or feeling I find myself in, there is a corresponding place in the village I know to go to give me what I need.
I sit on the craggy rocks by the bay when I need the movement of the water to remind me that life is constantly changing, forming and unforming and that ‘this too shall pass‘. I go to the woods when I need to feel the strength and wisdom of the trees and to cocoon myself in the safe blanket of silence that can only be found either in the woods or in snowfall. And when something in me longs for the thrill of adventure, I strike out on unknown paths in new directions, of which there are still many.
As a new beginning draws ever closer, the grief I feel grows stronger. Tears are never far away.
I think then of all the thousands of people I don’t know – or is it hundreds of thousands, or millions? – who have not moved ninety minutes up the road by choice, but who have been forcibly uprooted by war or some other horror and by necessity crossed whole continents to begin a new life in a land they do not know and which does not know them.
And when I think of these people, I wonder how they have borne the sorrow of leaving their home and heart land.
Why not stay then, if my heart is so woven into the landscape? Because although I am at home in this place, I do not have a home in it and I have learned that to get the very best of myself, and indeed to give the very best of myself, it is a good idea that I have my own little roof where I can relax and breathe and find myself at the beginning and end of each day. And such a place is not possible for me here.
And so I worry about whether I will accept my new place and whether it will accept me. Will we come to know one another? Care for one another? Will I manage to make a home and a life there?
But it’s too easy to take the cold knot of panic at face value; to believe it means that I shouldn’t be leaving and that I’m making the wrong decision. But I know enough to know not to believe it outright like that.
When I feel beneath the surface, I find the panic isn’t a warning against the move, but a calling to acknowledge and witness the sorrow and fear I feel as I stand on the precipice of change. A call to give the grief I feel the space it needs. A reminder not to expect myself to skip happily right on into a new life without going through the process of acknowledging what letting go of the old one means.
And so I will grieve and be sad, in a circular fashion, no doubt. And I know that the more I give my tears a space to breathe, the more I will be able to turn towards the excitement. Because yes, somewhere in there, mixed in with everything else, is a great ball of excitement about a new beginning and new adventures.
Love and courage,