A few days ago I found myself driving along a Worcestershire hilltop and then turning into a small country lane that would take me down a steep road towards the farm where I was born.
I hadn't been back for a few years and it was a hugely emotional moment as memories of my childhood came flooding back. I had my daughter with me and it was the first time I had taken her there. After a good descent the road levels out at the farm to give superb views over towards Clee Hill that rises majestically from the distant Teme Valley and Tenbury Wells. The valley bottom is still much further on but here is a tiny hamlet here of one working farm, a chapel, a few houses and our 'farm'. The surrounding fields, mostly taken over by surrounding farms, now probably have little memory of the acres of apple trees that once stood on this quiet hillside. Although the house has been altered and the surrounding buildings are used for domestic/office uses or to stable horses, the essence of the place is still there. The first nine or so years of my life where spent in the great farmhouse and in the surrounding fields. Such freedom I then had to play and explore and to be part of the local farming community.
It is a life that seems so distant now. We all have to move on. Time does not hold us captive to anything but our thoughts and memories. We are transient in so many ways. I cannot relive my past. I can only experience the present in the context of past experiences. The farm was my birthplace, literally, and my formative childhood. It held me through those early experiences that made me who I am today. My journeying this year seems to be taking me to places that are emotionally thoughtful, longing for change/development and, hopefully, taking me to a more mature awareness of my path. Going back to my 'home' area is always a struggle emotionally as I seem to have a deep attachment to that part of the world. I probably have my father to blame for that! I feel as though I want to draw upon the energy it gives me, but I am not sure how to do that, or if it is right. It is a creative energy of poetry, art, growing/farming, landscape, growth, nature, and belonging. It can be easy to wish that some parts of life had been different and that we could choose an 'alternative universe', but we know we can't. I am here today, where I am, because that is how things are. How I face the future, that I can change or influence.
Visiting the farm was hard - perhaps I feel a deep sense of grief - but it was enlightening in a positive way. It gave me a sense of energy that if I want to change, I have to initiate it. I can't hang on to the past but I have to ensure that when all my 'presents' fade into the past, they enhance my memories and soul in a way that will make me feel that I have achieved something.