I once read a story about a man overcome with sorrow while cleaning the closet after his wife had passed away. Married for more than 30 years they had two beautiful children and a great life together. He reflected with fondness on the life they had shared and the gratitude he had for the woman who was his love. The pang of sorrow he felt sprung from something he discovered in her closet. There inside a small box he found a beautiful satin nightgown wrapped up in crisp tissue paper. He knew immediately that it had never been worn. He understood right away that his beautiful wife had long ago purchased this for a special occasion that never came. The loss of that moment filled him with a deep sense of regret. That box represented a tenderness that was at the heart of their marriage. Their deep love and connection was always present but often tucked away while they focussed on the day to day hustle and bustle of their lives. Gently unwrapping the nightgown, he wished for one more day with his wife; one day to stop, unwind and enjoy the simple love they shared together.
This story has remained with me since the day I read it many years ago. Now married, I have tried to honour the love that lives at the heart of my relationship with my husband, but I too have stood by as the busy work of the daily shuffle piles up and covers over what is really important to me. In moments of reflection I look back on times when we were able to get still, and get back to the place where we began…back to the true intimacy that holds us together and makes the life we build together make sense. The memory that often rises to the surface is one where we laughed and held hands over lunch in Mexico. Invited to a destination wedding, we snuck away for a week together in the sun and I vividly remember feeling the bills and grocery lists drift away from my mind while digging my toes into the sand and staring at the sea. Free from to do lists and errands I was suddenly able to focus on the here and now. This focus immediately landed on me….what did I want? What did I need? How did I feel? Having the freedom to allow these thoughts to come and go without restriction was a gift I gave myself. A while later my thoughts wandered over to us…..what did we want? How did we feel? What’s next? These thoughts were so welcomed in my mind and felt so good to think. The simple clarity they provided made me smile, then laugh. I didn’t need to talk to my husband about it, he could see on my face that I was right there him and I could see that he was right there with me. We had swept things out and there it was.
It is easy to let things get a little dusty, to get busy and distracted and put that special occasion off…just for a little while…just until I get that one thing done… But the truth is that the time is now. We don’t get up everyday to get things done. As children we don’t dream of growing up to be super busy and tired. The busy work we all get busy doing is meant to be the foundation of our life, not the definition of it.
For me, travel is the arrival. It is the gift I give myself, the reward I get and the time I deserve to connect with myself and those I love. Be it a weekend mini break or a tour of Europe, it always gives me what I want. It is freedom to dust things off and really see what is important…and so often it comes with an incredible view and killer meals. What’s not to love about that?