Once upon a time, at Christmas, I went with my mother to see John Moriarty in the chapel in UCG. John Moriarty was a philosopher, a storyteller, a seer, a visionary. To me he was a prophet and a holy man, and I don’t say that lightly. I was home for Christmas and he was going to speak for three nights in a row in a tiny candlelit chapel. I had no idea who he was and was blown away. Some of the things he said and the stories he told over those nights profoundly impacted me, changed me as a person even.
One of the stories he told so beautifully (and this, I guarantee, will be my sketchily remembered version rather than his consummately told tale) was an old Irish scéal about a king who left Ireland in search of home. He left with his men on a great ship, on a quest to find truth and answers and a place he might truly call home. They sailed and they sailed, and the men grew discouraged. On they went for days on end but no land did they spy, until eventually they dropped anchor with heavy hearts, knowing they had failed. As the ship sat in the water the current slowly turned her, until the king saw, in the very far distance, a haze of land – and he knew in his heart it was home. It was, of course, Ireland, but it was only at that great distance that he could truly see it and know that it was where he belonged.
I came home from Berlin nearly a fortnight ago now. I’ve thought a lot about this blog since, and what I might possibly write that would do justice to my Berlin. I’ve wanted to shout about how happy I feel and how renewed, how I am myself again and more than that… how I’m a me I didn’t even know I could be. I’ve learned to walk again, metaphorically and physically – and perhaps even emotionally – which is a powerful combination. My heart is beating more quickly, or at least with a different energy.
To take John Moriarty’s story and hammer it into something that suits where I’m at…. I got in my ship and sailed away, knowing I needed something. Different air, at the very least. And I got far enough away – for a long enough time – to see myself. Lord almighty, it is so hard to see ourselves, our patterns and habits and dependencies, when we’re in the midst of it. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go away and actively think about myself or my life or make a five-year plan. (I was way too busy having a good time). But unasked, an entirely subconscious filing system kicked in. The good and bad was weighed up and – whoop! – a feeling of ‘hey, I’m alright’ sneaked in. More than alright. I’m good. Worth minding. Worth investing in. These last five years, which have felt sometimes like climbing up a mountain in winter, are over. The last year, which was marred by debilitating physical pain, is over. The clouds have lifted and I can see the view.
I can see all the people, my cheering squad of incredible family and magnificent friends and random strangers who lighten the load. I can see the good moves and the bad, where I do too much or too little, and I can see that I probably wouldn’t do much differently if I had to do it again. I can see the road ahead, and I can see, really see, me.
The road less travelled can be a bitch, especially if you didn’t actually set out to go that way and sometimes wonder why you’re not at home by the fire with a cup of cocoa. But if you do find yourself on that road, if you find yourself sailing your ship far enough away to see yourself on the horizon – well. Your heart lights up like fireworks over water. And that is what Berlin did for me. I am ablaze. This is joy.