Written on my cross-country journey, from Oregon back to Washington, DC, I reflected on my journey home to celebrate my father Wally.
I am blessed by an extra ordinary life. Most often I live my life with intention, but perhaps not with the daily reminder that I am blessed. Perhaps it takes unexpected loss to realize this. Even more so, perhaps it takes returning to a community of incredible love.
The loss of my father has been nothing less than grueling. Unstoppable sorrow. Facing the realities of death. The finite nature of everything. That stuff is just stuff. It is the people that really matter. Stamina alone keeps us going. If you stop too long to think about it, you would just melt.
Then the never ending questions about what to do with one’s life surface through the cracks, in days that feel like weeks. The meaning of it all. Where will we end up in this great big world. What is my mission in life. How does one gather the courage to go out on a limb. I’ve done so, time and time again, in my journeys throughout the world, and yet this time it feels so much bigger. Like my life up until this point has been a rehearsal, preparing me for so much more to come.
Going back to my roots has been an incredible experience, mostly beyond description. To see faces from decades past, and reflect on how I’ve been shaped by this community. I’ve come a long ways, but I still know where my roots are. I grew up as a hippie child, or a child of the hippie era. While it was a revolution that swept North America, those of us who were raised as true hippie children are actually very few in number. We blend into the mix these days, but we know where we come from. We question whether we’ve sold out to a yippie lifestyle, but we still know who we are at heart. My days of tie-dye dresses may be past but my time spent wandering the tomato patches of my youth will never leave me.
Going home also reminds me of how far I’ve come. Normally I go through my life just as it is, often forgetting indeed how special my life actually is. I try not to take it for granted, but I realize how normative my life has become for me. When I talk with others about what I do out in the great big world, I see my life through another lense. It helps to keep things in perspective.
Wally was often that perspective for me. Sharing with him my latest adventures, he always having a story or opinion to share in response. Each of us growing from the other. Now I’m left with a myriad of feelings, but appreciation always surfaces to the top.
Thanks for being the father that you were Wally.