The Readiness of Leaving
We are never ready to leave.
Departures will catch us unaware, as though unexpected, even though we know that we shall all leave some day. Leaving is one of the certainties of an uncertain life.
Sooner or later we all have to go, but we are never ready for it. And it's this lack of preparedness that causes us the most pain.
We are unprepared because we don't see it coming, it's a blindspot - but an important one. We couldn't live life fully with the portent of our end over us. But it's also true we shouldn't treat life as though there were no tomorrow, because this special commodity given to us is a finite one.
And though we tend to fear the ending of life as this great eraser - a whole bundle of dreams, memories, joys and pains silenced in an instant as though they had never been - death brings proportion to life. It gives it weight. And reminds us of the numbered opportunities we have to really live.
Apt, then, that my time with my family in Cyprus was spent during Easter, which like the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, is a time given to reflection and introspection. It is a time of preparation, distillation and rebirth.
And just before Easter, whilst in Larnaca, celebrations were already underway for Saint Lazarus Day. Each saint is assigned a day, and here, on the first day of April, St. Lazarus is celebrated. Celebrations go on for four days, with the kind of national day marches we are so used to seeing in American films juxtaposed against specially trained choirs chanting centuries old Byzantium hymns.
For Easter, we moved on to Limassol for the Catholic and Orthodox celebrations. This time we chose a five star hotel with our own jacuzzi and seaview. No church, but a temple of a different kind: at night we would take a jacuzzi on our private balcony overlooking the sea, watching the fishing boats at work with nature.
During my time here I have often looked inwards, knowing that the time would come for me to leave, and go back to work. But I am ready to leave, as much as I am unprepared to go, and the truth of who I am - who we all are really - is somewhere in that contradiction.
Human nature at its most poignant then: it is invariably in the space between such contradictions that we discover who we are and whom we love. A reminder - for people need many - that life is as short as it is sweet and we must live it as preparation for leaving, while being unprepared to go.