This Is Where We Used to Live

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Houses at Argenteuil – Claude Monet (1891)

Recently, I decided to go out of my way and drive through the neighborhood where I grew up. I wasn’t expecting this, but it turned out to be an emotional experience. It was worth doing, but you have to be ready for it.

The house where I grew up looked to be half the size of what I remembered. The trees had grown old and changed the look of the lot where our little house stood. There is a pine tree in the front yard that my Dad used to jump over in a display of athletic prowess for my siblings and me. It is now taller than the house. The yard that served as a gridiron for my brother and I and the rest of the neighborhood boys looked barely large enough for a game of backyard bocce ball. It used to be an adventure, when I was a boy, traversing the row of houses that constituted our stomping grounds. The woods in the back felt like an endless frontier. Now it feels almost claustrophobic.

I felt something deep as I inched my car down the street taking it all in. I realized later that I was mourning the past. I felt empathy for my younger self, now lost among the fading memories. For a moment, it all came rushing back, the hopes, the uncertainties, the misgivings. I could feel the way I felt back then. The world I lived in was small, but I remembered how big it felt.

Some say you should not dwell on the past. There is wisdom in that, but going back to take a look can be an eye-opener. You get to see yourself from a distance. You’ve probably already recounted the facts, but putting yourself in the middle of it and letting it all come rushing back, that is an entirely different thing. There is an opportunity for new perspective, an opportunity to reinterpret. You’ll want to be listening carefully.

The past is part of you now, part of the story that is still unfolding. You are the same person, though so far from where you started, and there are many miles ahead… miles to go before you sleep… miles to go…

Know that the changes continue and are happening to us right now, so slowly that we barely notice. This attaches new weight to the small decisions we make every day. Who we walk the path of life with, which direction we choose to go. Where will this road lead as you leave the miles behind you, how far from where you are now? Perhaps we can reassure ourselves. There is nothing to fear. We will leave this place behind. We should not hold back. We should walk the path well.

Consider your life right now.  One day you will look back at old pictures and say to yourself, “this is where we used to live”.  In the mean time, lets go for it. Further up and further in…