Tuesday, October 04, 2016

I'll Take Beauty With Me

Years ago I read a quote of Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay "Self-Reliance" that, in essence, drove home this truth: you can't get away from yourself. 
Morelia Cathedral, Mexico
"Traveling is a fool's paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home, I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican and palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sight and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go."
One thinks, "When I go on vacation, I'll finally de-stress and all of these issues will go away," or "If I move and start over, I can leave all of this behind me." But then the vacation comes or the move happens, and one discovers the issues are still there, perhaps even exacerbated by the change. 

Kraig and I had no illusions that our moves would be painless, nor did we go into them for the purpose of leaving something behind. Thankfully, no, we moved both to Guadalajara and to Longview because the doors opened, and it was clear that these were places God wanted us. Going through those doors with eyes open, though, didn't nullify the shocks to the system. Nor did we avoid coming face to face with parts of ourselves we'd rather have left behind.

This has been true for our kids as well. Hard, too, because there is so much they can't process or put into words. As a result their feelings and thoughts burst out in negative actions and attitudes. You know the kind; the kind that make parents want to disown their child...particularly when these actions or attitudes occur in the middle of the grocery store. Does that sound slightly specific? I can't imagine what you mean! Anyway, all that to say, these parents who are already exhausted by their own emotions must learn to help their kids navigate the transitions. We've learned a lot about that in the past few years, and while in many ways all of us are transitioning better this time, the upheavals still occur. I suppose seeing my kids' outbursts and helping them work through things helps me realize my own frustrations and face them better. If nothing else these situations are supremely humbling.

When I double-checked the Emerson quote, I stumbled on another of his with a more positive spin:
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
God has given our family the choice and opportunity in moving to bring what is beautiful with us. We have brought our faith, our family, our experiences, our memories. If we cling to them as lovely things now past, we'll be miserable. I'd rather bring them and apply them to the new. I have no doubt I will soon find more that is beautiful, and I pray that our kids will, too.


  1. You put my feelings into words exactly...

    1. Your process in this came to mind a few times as I wrote this :) . I have to say I'm glad in a way we've been able to walk this path together.

  2. Well written! And as one who has moved a ton, for real [15 times including internationally] i can relate. And I feel strongly, whether you welcome the move or find it an inconvenience, if you think of it also as an adventure it helps the soul! And I remind myself that usually you'll feel about the new "home" as you did about the "home" you left!

    1. Yes! I hear you. ...Though I have to keep reminding myself, too....