I spoke with a headteacher, struggling in lock down.
As new and often contradictory government directives arrive daily, he finds himself doing a job he didn’t train for, with pressure from all sides, uncertainty rife and strong emotions unleashed all around.
I ask him what took him into teaching in the first place. And for the first time he smiles, in remembrance of that simple vision.
‘I think I just wanted to make a difference. Still do, actually!’
Here was an Eden moment, a sense of what once was before everything got complicated and difficult.
And maybe this is a good return for us all, to a self less obscured by the baggage of life, acquired along the way – fear, guilt. anxiety, self-punishment.
Our Eden self is cleaner, clearer and freer, less tied by the entangling ropes of other people’s expectations and perceptions.
It is a simple vision, with an easy clarity to it.
‘This is who I am. This is how I wish to be.’
I think of the young woman forced to reconsider her extensive beauty regime in lock down, realising it is something she has acquired along the way, rather than something essential to who she is.
These present times did not create our cracks, but they do expose them; and our frustration and confusion is turned on others and ourselves.
But in exposure there is also blessing. If we are kind to ourselves, the cracks become a door back to a paradise obscured.
Here is a joy waiting to be revealed; like a heavy sheet lifted to display a field of buttercups.
We journey best when we journey towards something simpler, freer and more original in ourselves. It is both work and gift, layers peeled away, layers dissolving.
And, as T.S. Eliot observes:
‘…the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning.’
It has always been there, this unknown, remembered gate…
…always true, though sometimes obscured.