Glancing at the calendar this morning, I realized it’s been almost three months since leaving the Netherlands.
Twelve weeks from when I strapped myself into my assigned airline seat, Daughter to my right, our pets Oli and Ava beneath us in the acclimatized pet cargo hold.
Eighty nine days since I watched the plane rise away from the flat Dutch countryside, the buildings and farms and automobiles and windmills growing smaller until they were mere dots on the fuzzy earth carpet below.
In the vernacular of expatriate, cross-cultural life, at that very moment I was in the eye of the transition hurricane.
The involvement stage of an active, engaged existence in The Hague had ended with our decision to move back to the US, and the emotionally and physically arduous frenzy of dismantling and taking leave of our life there was behind us. Before us lay still more hard work, starting with the long and deceptively tricky entry stage. In the distance, the mirage-like shimmer of the re-involvement stage beckoned, that point where we would finally begin to feel the disparate parts of our life beginning to come together.
But for the duration of that flight, for those hours spent inside that air-frame hurtling through the thin air some 38,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, we were in transition. Literally and figuratively.
As I settled back and closed my eyes to nap, the running film in my head featured a large, leather-covered book lying open at the halfway mark. The tome was propped on a burnished wooden stand, calligraphied words dancing across the pages. I watched as an unknown hand grasped the lower right corner and turned the page.
The subsequent pages were blank, devoid of any marking. It didn’t take Freud to decipher the message my subconscious was sending me. We would be starting over again, building from scratch a new life in a new home in a new neighborhood.
Whatever comfort to be found inherent in the progress of the re-entry stage would have to wait. In the days and weeks ahead, we would be attending first to my elderly parents as my father’s condition worsened, the final decline to terminal cancer already underway.
The human spirit is capable of dealing with so much more than we can imagine. But the resilience required to face the future when we know full well it holds unpleasant or difficult or sorrowful events, depends in part on mindfulness. It calls for being rooted in the present – anchored, even – and dealing with things as they currently are and not on how they will become.
At that moment, as I felt consciousness give way to much-needed sleep, I found a strange solace in being in transition.
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