The photo is a moment caught in paper time. The family is mine. The month is December 1961. The place Bullwell, England. My family is gathered to celebrate the holidays. The place is the home of my grandparents, efficiently tucked in the back of my Grandparents News Agent and Sweet Shop.
This is a photo that depicts my heritage. Post war Brits, working class, entrepreneurial by design and nature. My Dad, the only professional, as an engineer he was the misfit and also the adventure seeker.
I didn’t know it at the time but my world, my cozy family and my destiny was about to take a seismic shift and never be the same again. The next Christmas my parents, my two brothers and I would be living in Scotland and the Christmas of 1963 we would be in our new home in Montreal, Quebec.
In the following years my homes were in New Jersey, Florida, England for a time, Calgary, Baltimore and finally Ontario. My parents added New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea and finally Calgary to the list of their life adventures.
Now, much later, I’m sitting in my farm kitchen in rural Ontario getting ready to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. It’s December 21st, the winter solstice, the predicted end of days? It seems that the powers of those who predicted our demise weren’t actually in tune with the Mayans who were likely predicting a new beginning rather than an end.
The convergence for me is taking place in the form of reflection, being thankful for all that has past and all that is to come. The knowing that the decisions made at the time of that old photograph were and continue to be the foundational base for the life that I live today.
Two paths or more were possible in 1961. Stay in England or move to a new country and start a new life? As a kid I was oblivious to the decision being made by my parents. I just reacted to them, I shifted with them, adjusted accordingly and made the transitions that were necessary. I said good-bye to childhood friends, made new ones, embraced my new homes and began life pointed towards succeeding in new worlds.
It is my strong belief that change and transition are basic requirements for living a good and whole life. If we cling to what we know and let that stop us from stepping into possibility and opportunity, then we narrow our view and compromise the life that we might creatively lead.
Safety is not only an external solution, rather it is can act as an internal compass that we use to negotiate through our constantly changing lives littered with lots of difficult possibly and life changing events, transitions and adjustments.
If we see safety as concrete, a thing that we only create outside of ourselves, then we limit our ability to move fluidly through life changing and evolving with the events that we are presented with?
The kid in that photo, who had never left the street where she was born, couldn’t have known what the future held. Kids use their resilience and “openess” to navigate decisions made on their behalf. Kids who have been raised with a sense of safety and security by their families in formative years, can and do learn to create their own sense of internalized safety and security. This empowers them to move forward, regardless of the unknowns, with a sense of confidence and certainty that all will be OK.
As a clinical Social Worker and Certified Trauma Specialist, I have witnessed resiliency in the most magnificent and courageous ways. I have seen children and adults survive and thrive through the most horrific and potentially soul breaking challenges.
My clients have taught me, what my war experienced parents knew at the time of that photo, that life isn’t always as we would want it to be but what we do with it, the good and the bad, are the lessons that are the most important.
My questions to you on this end of days, this time for reflection, this time of renewed hope and possibility are:
1) How do we create safety and security for ourselves?
2) Do we ever allow fear of change to limit our possibilities? What do we need to do to resolve this?
3) Do we hold onto things in an effort to control discomfort with transition? How does this impact our decisions regarding change and forward movement in life?
4) Do we believe that there is ever a wrong path or decision or are we the kind of people who think that if you get lemons then lemon-aid is a great solution?
5) What do we think we need to do to make our life bigger? What voices in our head are working to sabotage us from taking advantage of great opportunities?
6) Is living in the present only about holding things static or is it about appreciating the moments as they happen?
What do you think?
I can’t help but think that life is about purpose. We hold it close to us and we take the opportunities that we are given. We move into the possibility presented to us and translate that outward for our families, friends and strangers.
Why not view the world and life as a great and wonderful adventure and use our potential to continue to make it better. Using that sense of adventure and potential to fight social injustice, speak out about gender inequality, fight all of the “isms”, challenge workplace bullies and create safety and security for all children.
If we live life “outloud” then we will always know that the path we’re on is the right one. If we create a sense of safety and security internally then we will always be OK with the decisions that we make.
A moment in paper time is just that , a moment. One moment or event does not a lifetime make. Isn’t it our duty to move through life continuously changing and evolving?
Have wonderful Holiday Season with family and friends. Stay in the moment every moment of the holidays and enjoy each and every new beginning.