The evening that Brittany passed, I took my sad ass down to our favorite sunset spot on the east side of Lake Parker.
It is a little concrete pier that extends out over the water by perhaps 200 feet from the shore and gives a lovely vantage point of wherever the sun might be falling on the opposite side of the lake.
For a couple of years now, it has been my go-to sunset spot that didn’t involve an hour’s drive somewhere.
The skies were crystal clear and the air was fresh. And the sun dropped with all its splendor without the aid of nearby clouds to exaggerate red and violets.
It was a simple sunset; simple and pure.
Brittany and I had gone there many times, generally with her hoop and music, sometimes with a beer, and always with a mutual joy in watching the official end to a day.
This time it was different. Apart from the sadness of the day’s earlier news, there was genuinely a loneliness that swept in from the lake and muted the glory of the moment.
I thought. I remembered. I savored. and for a moment I imagined her watching the sun disappear with me. Hence this pic.
But in reality, I couldn’t quite get there.
At the bottom of the blog, I show the sun’s progression and hope you enjoy these shots.
But the main thought that I was left with, was a simple and profound one. There is no going back.
We can wish with all our heart, but nothing we can do in our present or aim for in our future will ever take us back. And the reason is simple. Time changes everything. It keeps ticking away and ten minutes after a moment, that moment no longer is the same.
I remember wrestling with that whole concept first when I lost my Dad and then my Mom. The loss stole what my heart felt was my home. Ireland, with my parents.
Whenever I visited over the years prior to their deaths, it always felt like I was going home.
And that is because their presence there masked the realities that time was changing the landscape that had fashioned all my memories from there.
So, when they were suddenly gone and the mask was removed, it laid bare the realities that the Ireland of my youth only existed in my heart.
And there is a sadness that comes with that realization, particularly to emigrants like myself. We make our choices, move at will, and one day realize what we have lost in the process.
Had we stayed in our home land, we would have absorbed the changes on a gradual basis and likely not recognized the loss on the scale that it now suddenly hits us.
There is an old saying that “you can never go home”. And the truth is profound. The word “home” though refers to anything in our past. It isn’t simply a place. It’s a place in time.
Incidentally, because that place in time only exists in the form of a memory in our heart, we oftentimes gloss it up a bit. We remember it the way we want to and discard the bits that don’t fit with our memory. Which in turn makes it even more impossible to return there, because the truth is that it likely didn’t really exist in the first place.
It is one of the reasons why a hate family pictures and in particular pics of children. Everyone smiles in those pics. Even little Johnny at the back is told “smile for the camera” and he does.
So, years later when we look back through those pictures and see all the smiles, we imagine them to be happier than they were. Little Johnny may be serving five consecutive life sentences for a mass murder, but aaah look how happy he was back then.
The search for “home” in that respect is very much a search for the holy grail and for many of us it can become a lightning rod for disappointment and frustration. Despite our best efforts we will never find it again.
And the reality is that we shouldn’t.
Life is a progression. From start to finish. Going backwards is a fools errand because it defeats the purpose of the progression. Life is to be a journey and a journey that we develop through. Gaining new experiences. Some good and some bad. But all the time moving forward.
Home and the people there, are best served in our memories. Memories that are cherished, polished up, warmed a little, and served ready for our soul to consume at times of upset or sadness.
I have been feasting on mine all week.
And the wonderful thing about that kind of soul food, is that no matter how much you consume them, they are always still there for the next feeding frenzy.
… just a thought.