I had intended to do a design sketch for this blog, and am working on it. My plan was to set every 4th blog or so as a design charrette- drawings showing ideas of supportive settings, and I will be doing that. Putting ideas on paper. It takes longer than one might think, and feels more than a bit vulnerable to put the first pencil to paper.
But tonight, I was taken by a big moment, and as I reflect on it I began to see it is a moment shared by many people from every walk of life, and everywhere on the planet. People alive and those whose time on this planet has passed. A real archetypal moment – A moment that transcends everything impermanent and temporal, and ties us all together.
And this made me think that there are a few of these that occur in life. Birth, leaving home to start an adult life, marriage or commitment to a partner perhaps, for many having a child, a parent’s death, and ours. For some, such archetypal moments include the sudden realization that one is heading into their last chapter, and is not as well and firm as they once were. An enormous drift from independence back toward dependence, as if struggling against a mighty current, often accompanied by a move to a new setting or home.
My moment was an empty nest. Twin girls, my only children, both heading off to college within the same week. A few short days after saying goodbye to my daughter Grace, I was driving 700 miles across the high Colorado Plateau to gently drop her identical twin Zoe off at her dorm in Arizona. The long drive gave us both too much time to think, to worry and project. The desolate desert stretches made the distance between home and school feel overwhelming. At times the effort to hold back the tears weakened by the enormity of the moment.
In literally one instant my life changed forever, in a big and meaningful way. Their lives too.
On the even longer drive home, I began to realize there was more to this event than just missing the friendship of and daily interaction with my daughters. Hence the bottom of the gut emotion. For one, this event signaled my aging. The turning of a chapter that was so adored and lovely, and can never be re-read. New chapters are to be written, and can they compare with the last? But much bigger than this, I was experiencing a moment that not only most people alive and passed have experienced (either by being the one starting adulthood, or the parent), but even most animals. The gentle push out of the nest. In a way, for better or worse, success or failure, the moment your child becomes an adult. An archetype.
In this moment I saw a connection between me and the whole world. Perhaps the deepest level of community.
I saw that so many have experienced this, lived and lived well through it, learned from it, grown from it, and in a mythological way were ALL there to support me.
I think when an elder or someone needing a supportive living setting makes this move from their independent or family-supporting home to a supportive living setting, similar timeless forces are at play. For both the new resident and their loved ones. Things have changed and there is no going back. There is a loss to be felt, and a new chapter to be written.
I have seen so many caregivers see this change and loss, and work so compassionately with new residents to make this transition carry hope. The next chapter can be full of love, community, and meaning. My experience of being touched by an archetype has shown me that maybe there is support, reassurance and comfort at hand in the biggest community of all.
I dreamt, for maybe the 3rd time in my life, this dream of swimming in a deep ocean on a new moon night, safe and not afraid, but the water was dark with many good and bad things lurking about below the surface. An ocean of consciousness, where all time merges. The place where both love and terror spring. Art and music come from here too. And idea and identity. The place where archetypes are born and felt. And there I felt all of humankind eternal put a hand on my shoulder and share the pain of a mournfully quiet perch, and the hopeful trust in their flight.