No shame in going back
Do you ever get the nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten something important but you just can’t put your finger on it?
I’m not talking about getting to work and realizing you’ve accidentally left the iron on in your apartment, (although I have done this before and been fully convinced that my whole building will be up in flames when I get home). What I mean is, do you ever realize that you’ve lost knowledge that was once a part of you? Are there truths that you once held dear and affected the way you lived your life, and then somewhere along the way, you realized you had left them behind? If this resonates with you, don’t worry; you are most certainly not alone. I am totally guilty of this and I believe that it is just the nature of human consciousness.
A wonderful educator and mentor who I now consider a great friend, would often say, “Consciousness is temporary.”
And when you think about it, isn’t that true?
At the age of twelve I was involved in a terrible car crash; one that still revisits me in the form of neck and lower back pain. At the time of the accident, I was in the passenger seat and I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. The force of the impact launched me halfway through the windshield and then threw my body back into the car. It was a traumatic event physically and mentally for a young person. Before the accident, I didn’t give much thought to seatbelts, but after the accident, I was all about them. In fact, I vividly remember the next time I got into a vehicle. My heart pounded as I climbed into the back seat and I immediately reached for the seatbelt. That ‘click’ was music to my ears. I was acutely aware of the dangers I could face now. I had just had an experience, which had given me first-hand knowledge of what could possibly happen in a 2-ton metal machine traveling up to 70mph, and it was because of this knowledge that restraining myself in a vehicle was now a priority. But alas, consciousness is in fact temporary, and within a few months I would be jumping into a car without even a thought to buckling up. As time went by, getting into a vehicle had become routine and that awareness, (though still a part of me), was not as fresh and therefore no longer as impactful at it once was.
It is now eighteen years later and although I always remember to click my seatbelt, there are other “truths” that I often let slip into the recesses of my mind. For instance, I know that I need to engage in some kind of physical activity on a regular basis; otherwise I get moody. I know from experience if I eat too much sugar, it will throw me into a cycle of junk food cravings that will in turn make me depressed and lethargic (Yes, the holidays are rough). And I know for sure that if I’m not able to engage in artistic expression, (whether it be singing, acting, dancing, or writing), my soul will start to hurt and my energy will wane.
I know these things to be true, yet when the stresses of work and family and taking care of a household start to take over, I often say “yes” to everyone else and in the process I say “no” to myself. I neglect the very things that I know I need in order to thrive and ultimately end up leaving my soul behind as the shell of my body plows forward.
The same mentor who taught me about the transient nature of consciousness also taught me this word in the Akan language of Ghana.
(san- to return; ko- to go; fa- to look, to seek and take) “To go back and get it”
The meaning of Sankofa is often explained with a proverb. The adage tells the story of a traveler who sets off for a long journey with his bag packed. He walks for a full day until it is time to rest for the night and it is then that he realizes he left something very important behind, something that he will need when he gets to his destination. Even though the traveler has come so far in his journey, he decides to go back and retrieve what it is he has left behind.
The moral of the story is that there is no shame in going back for that which you have forgotten because it is better to reach your destination later than you intended than to get there quickly but missing the things you need the most upon arrival.
In the past 6 months, being a part of Rooted has forced me to ‘Sankofa’. Having a time and place where I am encouraged to explore who I am and what makes me tick has given me the tools to confront those truths that I may have left behind. I have been given the opportunity to remember who I am beyond just an employee, an educator, a wife, a mommy, a daughter and a friend.I am more than these titles and the responsibilities that come with them. The benefits of this remembrance have been unparalleled. I have more clarity about what I need to make priorities in my life and I have much more awareness of how I feel about it all. With this awareness, I now take the actions I need in order to find balance and I have significantly increased my ability to communicate with my loved ones regarding these needs. It is liberating to be able to say and believe that my needs matter; that I matter.
I see this life as a continuous journey with multiple destinations and myself as a traveler on this long, and at times, arduous road.