I cut through the canal towards the school bus stop, struggling to quell the lump that sat clogged in my throat like a blocked drain. Tears swelled up in my eyes and for the first time in weeks I felt alone. No one had died. No one was sick. I hadn’t lost a pet or even gone through a bad breakup. I was only 14. As the bus arrived, I climbed the stairs clenching my backpack, on a journey to a concrete jungle that remained foreign, and I mourned. Alone.

As a child, my circle of friends were well within the lower part of single digits and I took human connection to heart. It wasn’t uncommon for me to find myself swept away, frozen in time as I sat locked in a transcended gaze, staring at an old person seated on a park bench. In those moments, looking at strangers, I felt an intense level of love to the point my fingers ached, nerve endings failing to keep up with the release of an abundance of attachment chemicals being secreted from my hypothalamus. I didn’t even know them, but in those moments, random moments, it’s as though we were connected through a past life. They never caught me staring, although sometimes I wish they’d had of, so I could have given them a smile, to let them know that they were loved, whole heartedly by someone they didn’t even know.

It’s taken me years to slow down. After earning an education, falling into the depths of love, bringing life to a family, chasing a career and watching the years fly by, I’ve found it difficult at the best of times to be present. I’ve almost lost the ability to be immersed once more in the moments, to fall in love with the unknown, without watching the hands of a clock tick by. Life just races, and I can’t stop it. I couldn’t stop it. Until life itself did it for us. For us all.

The last ten weeks of isolation have been my most present weeks, since as far back as I can remember. I find myself once more existing within the seconds. I find myself realising the unseen, hearing the unheard and feeling the untouched. I’m all here. Everywhere. And it’s bliss. It’s been years since my fingers ached with the concoction of chemicals once again spurted from my brain, tunneling me into a rebirth of pure love, with life. And it frightens me equally so, in a dichotomy of worry that I’ll lose this feeling of being once the doors to reality reopen.

The days are nearing where the world will start again, chasing materialism, catching up on losses incompatible with the gains many of us have found ourselves blessed with during this opportunity. The commutes will be long, the days shorter and the meals quicker. And I don’t want that, not after knowing what a rose smells like.

In a contradiction of need and emotion, I want to stay here forever, in my home, with just my family. In these moments I see the sun cutting through my daughters blonde hair, I’m lost in the perfect, sweet smile of my son as he finds joy in his own moments. I fall deeper in love while listening to my Evie learn new words. I appreciate the gift that is my wife and realise once more that the small things, like being present, remembering her words, and listening makes for a strong relationship. We’ve shared deep, meaningful and reflective conversations. I’ve watched her find her own hobbies, growing as a woman, bringing me more joy than pursuing any of my own self interests and passions could ever have.

I’m finally living, in the moment, and it’s perfect.

Yet here I am, scared, to let it all go.

A life of pursuit is a pure teacher. One thing I’ve taken from these weeks of reflection is that it could be easy to return to old ways, ways which take from the spirit rather than to nourish it. It could be easy to watch relationships rather than exist in them. It could be easy to count days rather than live them. But easy isn’t always living. I’ve come to realise it’s just as important to write for myself as it is to write for you. There may come a time where I yearn to be swept away in a moment of timeless existence once more and maybe these words will stop the cogs of life, so that I can again just be.

As the dawn of normality approaches I can only hope a piece of this real me is left behind to flourish, to exist in the moments in between the moments. Because that’s where life is.

Ivan.

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