I stopped about an our short of my daughter’s home in order to take photos of an abandoned house sitting on the top of a slight rise in the land. For some reason, the scenes of decay and abandonment have always caught my eye as the scenes talk of rawness and in a sense the truth of what was. the truth of impermanence. This place was home for someone. Whether or not it was a happy home is something I will never know, but I do know that there were moments of happiness and sadness, joy and suffering, love and hate, confusion and clarity – for that is the way of life, the path of each of our lives.
Like anyone else I have ever met, I want to be happy; and like everyone else, I have had moments of happiness. As a somewhat normal human, I have learned that defining my happiness is difficult at times, sometimes only being able to recognise it after the fact in contrast to the darkness of deprssion – being inside the dark looking back at the moments of light. Life is experienced only in opposites. We know darkness because we know light; we know love only in opposition of fear when we feel abandoned by love.
Emerging into the world from the womb of a mother, we are greeted with light and pain. Birth is a painful process for both mother and infant. We emerge and feel abandoned somehow, pushed out. Like any other father, I rejoiced at hearing each of my children cry out at the moment of birth and their first breath. I was there bursting with love but for them, it was a traumatic event as they were thrust into a strange land with no bearing and no certainties. Like my own story, these children have had to learn first to become conscious of themselves and of their separateness from others. The hardest part, in my opinion, is learning that they can never become at “one” with the mother who carried them within as part of herself sharing the same air, water, nutrients of life. This realisation of complete and utter separateness will mark their lives, has marked my life and your life.
We travel through life and find ourselves again and again having to leave the places, spaces, and relation in which we built a sense of happiness and security. We leave home to attend our first school lessons; we leave our parents to begin lives of our own; we leave being on our own to join with an Other to build a home together . . . The story of leaving goes on and on as we continually find ourselves once again, over and over, pushed into a new dimension of life. And each time, for the most part, a part of us rebels as it feels like we have been once again pushed away, abandoned; we feel this even in moving to some new way of being that is positive and inspiring such as when one marries or one has a child and becomes a parent, or one gets a longed for new job or home. There is always a sense of loss attached. There is always some level of suffering.
But, there is always new life as well. In this photo, one sees new life beginning to grow as the trees outside the window have new leaf buds, and in a blur of white, a bird flies free. That bird emerged from within the abandoned house, emerged out of the dark and abandoned place that once was home. And there is a lesson for me in all of this. As I change and feel the darkness of abandonment, there is a place and a state of being waiting, a place and promise of new life.