Ready, Steady, Go !
Travelling is a wonderful way to reflect, be it driving in solitude with loud music on a motorway or rocking with the gentle lull of a train. My brain has had plenty of opportunities to reflect, remember and consider over the past week or so. Memories of days gone by triggered by journeys, emotions dulled over time, temporarily reawakened and then put back to rest.Good times, with memories that make you outwardly sigh and smile, and not so good that bring the familiar tightness in your throat and heaviness in your heart, and yet both memories feel necessary in my moving forward.
I was travelling to my place of birth today, the first time on a train in over 20 years, that’s unbelievable. Not that it’s been 20 years since I visited, far from it, but the journey was bursting with memories, day trips to London as a child with my family in our best clothes, trips to see my sister at uni as a sulky teenager, trips to Oxford St to buy the latest fashions with my monthly pay in my hand and trips to see my ex husband when we first met and before I had the confidence to hurtle back and forward in my little red car. Those memories made me smile, as I remembered the excitement of travelling to see him and the heavy hearted goodbyes on the platform when we had to be parted. Back in the days when you could have a sentimental waving off on a platform and not have to have a ticket, or maybe you did and I’ve forget that in my rose tinted memory.
Today as I travelled, the fields brilliant yellow and the sky blue, the familiar grey tower of the local hospital on the outskirts of town, made my throat constrict and the heaviness return to my chest, it’s been 8 years since the most influential woman in my life died, my mother. I’d forgotten how seeing the hospital brought back so much sadness and the memories of round trips over months to and from the wards as she battled to defeat the cancerous invasion in her weakened body, how she’d been prematurely stolen from us and how since her death, my home town or place of birth has nothing left but memories. It reminded me of the painful void in my life, that perhaps my own – not that I want to say I owned it, cancer grew in to fill.
During my illness I wanted nothing more than to see her, hear her, feel her embrace. Of course this wasn’t possible and I sought comfort in the memories of her courage, her kick ass, take no sh*t battle with Leukaemia that moulded me and gave me a role model to aspire to be. With my cropped hair, I imagined for a moment having an opportunity to compare how we felt during treatments, and what advice she might give me now as I am ploughing forward leaving the cancer in the past. My mum and dad had so many words of wisdom, that as a teenage I paid no attention to, and now as a mature (yikes) adult I search my memory banks to hang on to their words for comfort and guidance.
Truth be said, there is no time in the present for the past, nor is there time in the present for advance worrying. It’s all about the now. The art of life is to balance your time, to not live in the past, nor wish time away in excitement of the future or worry of what it may bring. Thinking about this I considered, as a child, you can’t wait to hurtle over milestones, sitting up, crawling, walking, talking, running, starting school, becoming a teenager, finishing school, college, dating, getting married, having children etc and becoming an adult and hitting 30 you start to want the world to slow down, 40 arrives and another decade of high speed life juggling the pressures of life and instead of wishing time away, you almost wish the early times would come back, 50’s, 60’s losses become part of daily life, not just teeth or hair, but status, career changes, health changes, looking back and remembering becomes a sense of comfort as you approach 70, 80 and 90 as the now becomes tainted and uncomfortable with age and deteriorating health.
My dad would say, ‘There’s no point worrying about it until it happens.’ I can live with that. I have felt lately that I am moving forward, that over the past few days I’ve had a chance to reflect on past events, but only in a way to help me let go and keep moving forward. Perhaps before I was arrogant enough to think I had unlimited time and could waste this waiting on hopes of wrong people or unhappy in work situations. Cancer set me free from this trap, yet recovery and returning to high speed life can bring with it blurred lines and old behaviours, perhaps the past few days have given me a nudge and a reminder to keep on moving, time waits for no man, woman or dog.