My grandfather passed away six days ago, today, and it has taken me this long to acknowledge this fact.
I suppose because in doing so, it has made me come to some sobering conclusions: about life, death, and the cycle of it all.
He was the man who taught me at an early age to look outside the window on a drive. Look outside. “Look outside, peachy.” Really look. The man who taught me the world was small and the greatest adventures are located off of the beaten path. When I was younger we lived in Germany, and my grandparents came to visit. While there, we went on many a volksmarch. Even if it wasn’t an official day in the forest with others, we would walk the streets. I hated every minute of it. I didn’t get the point at all, and at my ripe age of four-and-a-half, I was quite opinionated. I felt so vividly disconnected to everything around me. Inside of me. He used to bribe me with gumballs. “Just around the corner, peachy,” he’d prod. Now, they weren’t on every corner, but there were enough of them that it kept me walking, and at four and some change, the prospect of a gumball at the end of this senseless walking seemed like an okay deal. Besides, I could relate to the ill fit gumball dispenser on a lone corner. “Why here in the middle of nowhere?” I used to think.
Let me back up for a minute. For those of you that haven’t followed my blog or that don’t know me, I am a survivor of abuse. I’ve just recently become more vocal about it and wish to continue doing so to a larger degree in coming months. So from time to time, I will be sharing more of the life inside an abuse survivor’s mind.
I felt disconnected in my childhood home, early on—and I suspect even earlier than memory will allow, I wondered what the point of life was from such a budding age in my youth. I can even remember attending nursery school and all the children laughing and singing vapid rhymes (London Bridge is one I recall vividly) and simply feeling such a sense of disconnect from it all. I was never like the other children. Even at that young age, I remember feeling the melancholy laced within the lyrics of that song, though, I had no clue at the time ‘melancholy’ was a word or what the definition was. Let alone, the ramifications of what that word would truly come to signify and encompass in my adult life. I couldn’t comprehend how these tiny humans, all my equals in size and life, could laugh and sing when the world seemed so upside down and backward to me. I felt as if I were suffocating inside of a plastic bag back before plastic was readily available.
One day, attending college at Oregon State, when I was walking to class, I stopped for the first time as an ‘adult.’ (I think I was nineteen at the time. Hardly an adult in the emotionally mature sense of the word, but you get my drift.) I was on my own out in the real world and, honestly, looked at this world around me. It was as if I’d opened my eyes for the first time. Nature began to speak to me in ways I can’t fully fathom to this day. Only to say, it was one of those moments of profound change. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I discovered the therapeutic joys of gardening and the rich rewards of sowing love directly back into the earth’s core. It’s a discovery I’ve nurtured into my adulthood. Writing came later, though that seed, too, was planted early on by my high school English teacher. Oddly enough, my least favorite subject in school. But it was a unit on Shakespeare, and alas, I fell like star-crossed lovers for the written word.
Life is a series of seeds, and buds, and blooms, and death. And no one part is greater than the whole. The sum of all the parts, the product of the bits and pieces, is what life consists of. It is a process where we are born and die a thousand deaths before we begin to actually wake up and look outside of ourselves to discover that we truly hold all the pieces and parts within. Paradox? Exactly.
“As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” Hermes Trismegistus
I’ve grown into an adult who cannot go a single day without the connection that nature provides. Whether it is a daily walk, time well-spent in my garden, or a cup of coffee I enjoy on my deck as I watch the birds in all their glorious birdness, I look outside. The quiet I share with nature shares its insight with me. And I’ve finally realized why the elusive gumball seemed to work like a charm. It’s because I’d shut down early on in life to all the sweetness. A result of the emotional, verbal, and physical abuse I’d endured. I remember biting into the hard, candy-coated shells and thinking, “Mmm. This is what life should taste like.”
So today, six days after, the death of the first man who introduced me to the sweetness of life, I share with you this message of hope and survival. Look outside. Then go within.
Love, Light, and Ink,
© Grace Black
I also dabble with poetry prompts on Instagram. Follow me there, @graceblackink, for more daily poetry and play along. Do you dabble in wordplay as well? Let’s create!
Love and Ink,