I continue my time of rest from a place my family has returned to almost every summer since I was 15 years old. This place, oh this place.
I got to thinking as I was walking on the familiar beach path a few days ago that I’ve walked that path as many different girls: a teenage girl, a college girl, a girl in love, a heartbroken girl, a confused, sad, joyful and excited girl. A girl arm and arm with her mom, her dad, her best friends and her sisters. No matter who happened to show up as me that summer, I consistently walked or ran that path by the water and the lava rocks and the giant sea turtles as many times as possible before the sad departure day arrived.
It’s strange how a place can remind you of who you once were and what you once were like. I’m laughing now at how timely it is for me to visit that path at this point in my own path when I’m starting a new career and hoping for the best and trying not to be terrified of the worst. This path has been good for me these past few days to remember why I’m doing this, to remember the parts of me that love and have always loved to write. The part of me that told people at age five that I was going to be an Author. The eight-year-old me that made up stories and read them aloud to my class. The college me that competed in a slam poetry contest (yes, yes I did that).
Those parts of us. Remember them? They’re still there, but sometimes we quiet them and hush them until we convince ourselves they’ve gone away. We do this because we are clinging to the reliable things like schedules, and financial goals and to-do lists and things that aren’t bad but when they are our rock, we feel no need for anything else—a hobby, a passion, a savior.
On my beach path, I’ve been assured the parts of me I’d forgotten have not actually gone away. Neither have yours. I’ve also been assured that we owe it to ourselves to be honest about who we are. To let what we’ve let die a little come back to life. This often means taking little steps like signing up to be in the chorus of a community theater production, taking a substitute teaching gig, knitting a scarf for a friend. Whatever it is that taps into that part of you you’ve been keeping under the surface, into that thing you once loved and were good at and others told you so.
Find the walking path, or the city, or the house or the park that will remind you of this. Go there, walk around and remember what it was. Remember who you were.